Editorial: Latest wind turbine project is a bad idea

Crescent Peak

Less than a year after backers of a proposed wind turbine farm near Searchlight threw in the towel after failing to convince a federal judge their Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was accurate, an even bigger project just 10 miles to the west has started the environmental review process.

A week ago a notice was published in the Federal Register by the Bureau of Land Management initiating a 90-day public comment period for the proposed Crescent Peak Renewables wind farm that would occupy more than 32,000 acres of public land on the California-Nevada border adjacent to the Mojave National Preserve and the Castle Mountain National Monument in California and the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness in Nevada. All of the wind farm land is in Nevada.

According to a 2012 filing with the Nevada Public Utilities Commission, the wind farm would have 220 wind turbine towers standing more than 400 feet high and generating 500 megawatts of power. By comparison, the rejected Searchlight wind farm would have had only 87 turbines on 9,000 acres of federal land, generating 200 megawatts of power.

A federal judge ordered the Searchlight wind farm developers to start all over again on an environmental assessment, noting that the Interior Department’s approval of the project failed to adequately address concerns about impacts on bald eagles, golden eagles, desert tortoises and migrating bats. The judge pointed out the initial data used by the BLM found there were only three golden eagle nests within 10 miles of the proposed turbines. Subsequent surveys actually found 19 probable or confirmed golden eagle nests within five miles of the site, the judge wrote.

Instead, the developers shut down the project.

“Due to the size and potential impacts of the Crescent Peak wind project, the BLM is preparing an EIS,” the Federal Register notice states. “The purpose of the public scoping process is to identify relevant issues that will influence the scope of the environmental analysis, including alternatives, and to guide the process for developing the potential Plan Amendment. The BLM has identified the following preliminary issues: biological resources, visual resources, cultural resources, tribal interests, recreation, and cumulative impacts.”

Wind farms create a number of problems, besides being ugly and noisy and undependable.

A 2009 study by Fish and Wildlife estimated wind turbines kill 440,000 birds annually, including scores of bald and golden eagles. Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area in California alone kills about 75 eagles a year.

Studies have found that because intermittent wind power must be backed up by idling fossil fuel power plants, more greenhouse gases are emitted, not less. When the Spring Valley wind farm near Ely first opened, it produced power less than 19 percent of the time.

Also, the increased cost of power kills more jobs than are created.

But the one aspect we find most egregious is the fact the federal public land is practically given away to wind farm developers. No price tag has yet been put on the Crescent Peak project land, but the abandoned Searchlight land was slated to be handed over for a pathetically paltry sum of $118 per acre. And they have the nerve to call those who graze livestock on federal public land welfare ranchers. If the public owns the land it should get a fair market price for it, but without that and the ample subsidies, wind farms don’t pencil out.

Since the project is located on the California border and next to a major transmission line, the power generated there, if ever, is likely to flow into California to slake its legislatively mandated renewable energy portfolio of 50 percent renewables by 2030. All Nevada will get is the bird chopping eyesore.

The deadline for commenting on the proposed Crescent Peak wind farm is June 13.

Comments may be submitted via email to blm_nv_sndo_crescentpeak@blm.gov; via fax to (702) 515-5155, attention Gayle Marrs-Smith; or via mail to BLM, Las Vegas Field Office, Attention: Gayle Marrs-Smith, 4701 North Torrey Pines Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89130-2301.

Let your voices be heard.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.


9 comments on “Editorial: Latest wind turbine project is a bad idea

  1. Bob Frank says:

    Readers might find it useful to see a comparison between some environmental impacts between wind, solar and small modular reactor power systems configured to deliver half the volume of electricity as illustrated on the linked slide. If the state of Nevada wants to encourage viable business opportunities with the building of power plants to produce Carbon-Free Power to sell over the Grid to CA, AZ and other state’s customers, it should consider adapting the NevadansCAN Citizen Action Network plans. That alternative proposes using the Nevada National Security Site to recycle spent nuclear fuel into advanced fuels for new generation reactors that require no water for cooling, consume the available spent fuel, and uses adjoining private land to create a Carbon-Free Energy Park using advanced nuclear power systems produced by American companies. For more details see: http://www.nevadanscan.com/energy-main/

  2. Vernon Clayson says:

    What, and deny Chinese companies that construct windmills? Harry Reid won’t like that after all his promotions while in office.

  3. Rincon says:

    Since you complained endlessly about the Endangered Species Act, I assume you’re doing the same here – a clever use of ironic satire. I have to agree with you that the bird death toll is a ridiculous complaint by environmentalists since windows kill nearly a billion birds each year and the family cat kills about 500 million, while wind turbines are responsible for a mere 400,000. http://www.sibleyguides.com/conservation/causes-of-bird-mortality/ So much wiser to just keep the cats indoors and to apply decals to windows than to shut down major energy projects.

    And of course, the Altamont Pass project and the poor production of the Spring Valley Wind Farm when it first opened are clearly examples of the egregious use of selective anecdotes and statistics by the media. Although you made these obvious enough so that we would catch on immediately, it helps alert us to the more subtle instances that abound in the mainstream media and of course, ever so rarely in the Conservative media. Thanks for this warning, Thomas.

    And of course, your tongue in cheek complaint that the federal; government is selling the land is very humorous, when we all know that you’re actually cheering that the government is finally going to sell some land as you have been urging them to do for years. The $128 per acre seems a touch low, since I can’t find Nevada desert land for less than $157 an acre. https://www.themanual.com/living/cheap-land-us/ Probably reasonable though, since the $157 is for only 6,000 acres. Larger tracts usually sell for less per acre.

    Your complaint that California would get to use the power is equally clever and funny, since Nevada stands to make money from Californians by using a tract of formerly unproductive land.

    Glad to see that you support this project. Your use of ironic satire is very entertaining. I just hope everyone else can catch on. A less clever person might mistakenly believe that you were against it.

  4. Bob Frank says:

    Ooops. Forgot to show link to the presentation where slide #11 shows the comparison between wind, solar and advanced nuclear power plants.

    Click to access NvCAN-Energy-Security-Action-Committee-Plan-V-17-30jan18.pdf

    Summary: To produce 225 MWe of peak power (less than half of the proposed wind project), it could require:
    – Average Wind Power = 60,000 acres
    – Average Solar Power = 2,400 acres
    – Small Modular Reactor = 15 acres

    Link to full slide comparing wind, solar and advanced nuclear:

    In addition, advanced small modular reactor-based power plants are designed to be 100% safe, to produce steady-state power every hour of every day in a year, and to not have to be refueled for up to 30 years while burning up nuclear “waste”.

    But, wind and solar are intermittent power producers. They sometimes wait weeks for weather changes to resume production output. And, they usually require very expensive, high cost batteries for storage when the wind does not blow or the sun is not bright enough, and they can require hidden, high life-cycle maintenance programs, and are limited from complex recycling of costs not usually included in the business plans.

  5. Rincon says:

    Are there any of these reactors that are being used commercially?

  6. Anonymous says:


  7. Bob Frank says:

    RINCON: Yes. But, most are implemented overseas by China, Russia, India, etc. because in large part the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s regulations are designed for multi-billion-dolllar light water power plant rules. The rules are basically are seen as unacceptably intrusive and expensive. They cost tens of millions to try to comply, they take over a decade to respond, and there are high risks of failure to become licensed after a decade of investments. This is not the case in most overseas nations.

    As a result, they effectively prohibit SMR civilian, national security and natural disaster response applications from being bid and implemented–even though some models might be purchased for or leased for 90% less than a traditional nuclear power plant.

    You can get more details on your question by web searches for SMR and/or Small Modular Reactors by monitoring the commercial publications that serve the nuclear power markets.

    Many of the basic SMR concepts have been around since WWII, but lobbyists and politicions with apparent financial interests for both parties have blocked implementations for all these decades.

    Such SMRs will eventually produce a paradigm shift in global power production, and that fact is both well known and the ultimate fear of all other power production systems. See this TED presentation or some very useful info by a green energy leader who is 100% for nuclear power.

  8. Steve says:

    There’s some question re: cost. Even when removing the legacy regulation factor.
    It looks to be more than the cost for wind and solar which are both more than natural gas.
    These costs flipped in just the last few years with “renewables” coming down in price and fracking pushing gas and oil way down.

  9. […] to a 2012 filing with the Nevada Public Utilities Commission, Crescent Peak Renewables is proposing to erect 220 […]

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