OCOTILLO – Pattern Energy cannot resume operations at its controversial wind farm near here until it meets certain specific conditions set by the U.S. Bureau of Land management, an agency document states.
BLM sent Pattern a “notice of temporary suspension of operations” on Sept. 20. It followed the Sept. 16 collapse of one of the firm’s 300-foot-high windmills at the site. Its 112 windmills generate 265 megawatts of power for San Diego Gas & Electric.
The notice was sent by BLM El Centro Field Office Manager Michael Chatterton to Pattern asset manager Rita Brady in Houston.
The notice stated BLM was issuing it “based on its concern for the public health and safety of users of BLM-administered public lands. The (wind farm) is situated on BLM-administered public lands that are readily accessible and frequented by recreationists.”
The notice also states the conditions Pattern must meet to resume operations and that the company had informed BLM it is investigating the collapse’s cause.
“The temporary suspension of operations will remain in place until Pattern files a written request for permission to resume activities and the BLM issues a written notice to proceed…” the notice states.
The request to resume can be submitted at any time and “should give the facts supporting your request and the reasons you believe that the BLM should lift the order. The request shall include a root cause analysis report and a return to service plan.”
Siemens Gamesa, the turbine manufacturer, had previously reported to this newspaper it was investigating the cause of the collapse and that operations were suspended pending the results.
The Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility opened in 2012. It faced strong opposition from some area residents who said it was unsightly and posed a danger to those living in the area and using the desert. That opposition continues, and one longtime opponent tipped this newspaper to the collapse and provided photos.
Meanwhile, a SDG&E representative released scant information on whether the shutdown had any impact on its ability to supply electricity to its customers and how it might be making up for the loss of electricity.
“SDG&E cannot publicly disclose any specific actions with regards to its portfolio as it might impact its market position. SDG&E will continue to use the standards and criteria in its Bundled Procurement Plan to meet the procurement needs of its customers,” Helen Gao stated in an email.
The utility had no immediate information on how long the facility will be off line and was discussing the situation with Pattern, she added.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding