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Energy company quits Dunnigan Hills wind farm project

A Texas energy firm has abandoned its bid to build hundreds of wind turbines in Dunnigan Hills, according to a letter to one of the landowners.

“In the end, we were not able to secure a partner,” said Patrick Buckley of Pioneer Green Energy, in a letter to Charlie Schaupp explaining why the company was pulling out.

Buckley said changes in the renewable energy market caused by cheap solar power, as well as “uncertainty regarding federal policy,” doomed the project. The company’s contractual agreements with Schaupp and other landowners were terminated as of June 1.

Pioneer Green Energy hoped to build as many as 400 360-foot-tall wind turbines in Dunnigan Hills west of Interstate 505. Its nearly two-year effort – under the auspices of Dunnigan Hills Wind I, LCC, a subsidiary based in Woodland – included putting up weather towers in the area, according to David Morrison, assistant director of the Yolo County Planning Department.

“They submitted two applications for 11 meteorological monitoring towers and were approved,” Morrison said. “Three were actually built. The meteorological towers were to gather data to determine the feasibility and design for the 400 wind turbines.”

Morrison added that it is the company’s responsibility to remove the towers. He also said the local office appears to be shut down, and “It is my assumption that they are no longer interested in pursuing the project.”

In his letter, Buckley stated that “It is likely this is
not the end for wind energy in the Dunnigan Hills. … While we may have been too early to the table, we are confident that this area will host a wind project one day.”

Many nearby residents strongly oppose the idea, however, saying that wind farms ruin the land without even providing green-energy benefits such as reduced carbon emissions.

“The noise and strobing lights from similar towers have driven residents from their homes, tourists from quiet country, and birds and wildlife from their habitat,” wrote Mary Jo Hoes of Zamora Hills.

Even Schaupp said he thought the proposal “was foolhardy from the start as the wind doesn’t blow in that area during peak energy demands.”

Greg Buis, Pioneer Green Energy’s vice president, was not available for comment as of press time.

This go-round, Buckley said, the company “put together over 27,000 acres of land, gathered nearly two years of wind measurements, conducted numerous environmental studies and assessed the interconnection process.” Also, he said, employees “had the opportunity to meet the many great people of Yolo County.”