Anti-windmill brochure prompts questions; Fire chief confirms potential fire danger of wind turbines
APPLE VALLEY – A glossy, tri-fold brochure criticizing a wind energy project has been mailed in recent days to residents of Lucerne Valley and Apple Valley, piquing interest as to who produced it.
As of Wednesday, the “No On Windmills” mailer mystery remains unsolved.
Including a detachable reply card for offering support for the group’s views against a proposed wind farm, the brochure lists an Apple Valley post office box as its mailing address. A U.S. Postal Service supervisor said a boxholder registrant’s name, even for businesses or associations, could not be divulged without a court order.
The applicant for the group’s website, noonwindmills.com, also could not be determined, and messages from the Daily Press to the email address listed on the site were not returned this week.
Spokesmen for the recently formed Mojave Communities Conservation Collaborative said they did not produce the mailer. Chuck Bell and Lorrie Steely said they do not agree with all the points made in it but are generally supportive of the No On Windmills view.
The subject of the brochure is the 71-turbine North Peak Wind Project proposed by E.ON Climate & Renewables North America, with affiliate headquarters in Dusseldorf, Germany. The project would run from about High Road in Lucerne Valley west into the Marianas foothills in rural Apple Valley.
Marta Neely, a resident of the affected area, said she wanted more specifics presented in the brochure and on the group’s website, including to what distance the windmills’ low-frequency sounds and vibrations would affect people.
“I would like to see a more balanced discussion based on facts,” Neely said.
One item from the No On Windmills website about potential fire dangers posed by wind turbines was confirmed by Apple Valley Fire Protection District Fire Chief Sid Hultquist.
“Windmills are like any other mechanized equipment that’s prone to failure and subsequently certainly can and do catch fire, mostly due to mechanical failure or lightning,” Hultquist wrote in an email. “Anytime you have plastics, hydraulic oil and electrical wires, there is a risk of fire.
“The challenge for any fire department in suppressing a windmill fire is the sheer size of the tower, blades and equipment along with the hazard of falling debris. These windmills are often difficult to access and delivering enough fire flow poses a problem. Additionally, the proposed windmills are located in a hazardous fire area.”
Each North Peak windmill tower is expected to rise hundreds of feet above ground level and house triple fan blades dozens of feet in length. The noise level of turbines and blades is a controversial aspect of their operation and, according to news reports, lawsuits in a variety of states have followed their installation.
The project would supply 120 megawatts of electricity, enough to power roughly 33,000 homes, according to E.ON estimates.
Now suspended for revision, the project’s application may be revived for a draft environmental impact statement that could be considered around November, a Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman said.
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