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Ocotillo wind project back online – sort of  

Credit:  By Roy L Hales | Sunday, July 7, 2013 | sandiegolovesgreen.com ~~

Around fifty days since turbine 156 threw a blade: the Ocotillo Wind project is starting to go back online. This has prompted a very revealing article in the Imperial Valley Press and a resumption of the videos documenting this controversial site’s problems on Youtube.

I sent the query that Jim Pelley, an aerospace engineer residing at Ocotillo, refers to in the video above.

He responded, “Yesterday 2 turbines from the second phase of the project were engaged, this is the first time these 2 turbines have ever been online in Ocotillo, they were turning slow not much wind. Early this morning there was only 1 turbine barely turning, I just looked and I don’t see any turning now but that could also be due to the fact that the wind speed is at 2mph right now. I will shoot a video right now and post it.”

Pelley revised that answer while shooting his video, “It’s pretty hard to tell because there is no wind. One would never know. We think there may be one or two turbines on standby, waiting for the wind. Bottom line is the project is still pretty much offline.”

That was at 8 am. By 11:30 am a 7 mph wind was blowing – and the blades of three turbines were spinning – so Jim made another video.

He and his neighbor William Pate were both interviewed by the Imperial Valley Press for a story that ran yesterday.

Pate revealed that a number of Ocotillo residents are about to sue Pattern Energy through the so-called False Claims Act, which imposes liability on companies that mislead the government to acquire a project approval.

The article also states that, “According to the Ocotillo Wind Express final environmental impact statement, based on data taken near Boulevard, 10 miles west of the project site, average hourly wind speeds of 8.8 mph and 9.1 mph occur about 53 percent of the time. In addition, the EIS notes that more than 7,700 hours of video provided by Pattern Energy show that at 10 meters (some 30 feet) from the ground, wind speeds of nearly 11 mph occur about half of the time.”

Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 9.45.16 AMSo, aside from the fact these are not even “marginal” wind resources as defined by the California Energy Commission (see chart to the right), it looked like Pattern’s preliminary data was not from Ocotillo!

Jim Pelley corrected this impression, “Basically it looks like they used wind speed data form 2 sources, 1 was from Boulevard and the other source was from the MET towers on the project site. At the Board of supervisors meeting they also talked about some highly sophisticated equipment that was used to verify their data LODAR and LIDAR but nowhere in the EIR/EIS could this data be found. See actual text from the EIR/EIS:

The project site area, as would be expected for a wind energy project site, is characterized by predominant and strong winds from the southwest and west southwest. Winds from these two directions, as determined by data from Boulevard, located 10 miles west southwest of the project site, occur approximately 53 percent of the time with the average hourly wind speeds of 8.8 miles per hour and 9.1 miles per hour from each direction, respectively (WRCC, 2011). The Applicant also provided over 7,700 hours of wind data collected in 2010 from a monitoring tower at the project site that indicates a median wind speed of 10.7 miles per hour at a 10-meter height and that the wind direction frequency for winds from the southwest and west southwest occur approximately half of the time.

In regard to the data being collected at Boulevard, rather than Ocotillo, Pelley told SDLG, “When I questioned Pattern about this at a town hall meeting the response was something like ‘Well it’s only 10 miles down the road’; which is correct but it is also over 3,000 feet of elevation change.

A Pattern Energy spokesperson named Matt Dallas was also interviewed by the Imperial Valley Press:

As is true of all wind farms, the turbines at Ocotillo will not be spinning all the time. We know from our research that the winter months have lower wind speeds, with the wind picking up in the spring and summer months.

We do not disclose the energy generation of our projects,” wrote Dallas when asked how much energy Ocotillo Wind has produced since coming online in December and explained that “once it is complete, the projected annual generation of the 265 megawatt Ocotillo Wind project is equal to the energy needs of approximately 125,000 Southern California households each year.

Jim Pelley had a few things to say in response:

I find it interesting that Matt Dallas refers to the project as ‘The 265 Megawatt Ocotillo Project’ and really does not say how much power this project is really projected to yield. I believe Matt is referring to the maximum capacity (name plate capacity) of the project which would require winds around 27 mph to hit that mark. This is very misleading information especially with wind energy projects because wind is so unreliable.

If we do some simple math and multiply the (112) turbines times 2.3 megawatts (2.3mw per turbine max capacity) we see that the maximum capacity of this project is only equal to 257.6 megawatts not 265 megawatts.

I also find it interesting that 265 megawatts just happens to be the number that was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) – Hmm….

Why is this information so proprietary? I am a tax payer and my tax money was used on this project I should have the right to see if this project is doing what was promised. I can only assume that if they will not show us the actual amount of power this project is producing it is probably way below the numbers that they mislead everyone to believe.

If this project was so great I would think there would be a big billboard along the freeway with real time numbers indicating how much power this project was generating i.e. : “This project is currently producing 50 Megawatts of Clean Green Energy”. Why is everything about this project such a secret?

Source:  By Roy L Hales | Sunday, July 7, 2013 | sandiegolovesgreen.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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