Newspaper column: Whither renewable power after wind farm rejected?

Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area, with Crescent Peak in the background. (Basin and Range Watch pix)

The Bureau of Land Management has rejected a bid by a Swedish firm to construct a mammoth wind turbine project on the Nevada side of the border with California near Searchlight.

The Crescent Peak Wind Project was to have covered 32,000 acres of public land with as many as 220 wind turbines standing 400 to 600 feet tall and generating 500 megawatts of power. The proposed site is adjacent to the Mojave National Preserve and the Castle Mountain National Monument in California and the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness and the South McCullough Wilderness in Nevada.

While the vast majority of the arguments against the project were based on probable environmental and ecosystem damages, some of the reasons given by the Nevada office of the BLM for denial were actually ones about economics and, perhaps most importantly, air traffic safety.

While the land agency said the project did not conform with the area resource management plan, it also cited other concerns. “These issues include that access to the turbines would potentially affect the development of more than 300 mining claims; the turbines could interfere with radar at two regional air facilities — one military and one civilian; and impacts to the visual landscape,” said Nevada BLM in a statement obtained by Basin and Range Watch.

Such air facilities include McCarran International Airport, a gateway to Clark County’s profitable, job-generating gambling resorts, and Nellis Air Force Base, a key element in the nation’s air defense training that includes air combat and bombing practice ranges that cover a vast swath of central Nevada.

The original denial letter, from the assistant secretary of the Interior Department, also obtained by Basin and Range, mentioned the potential for “a significant threat to military operations” at China Lake Naval Air base 150 miles away in California.

If such turbines can’t be located within 150 miles of such air facilities, where in Nevada, with all its commercial and military aircraft activity, can they be sited?

Dr. Donald Deever of Searchlight warned of just this problem in his 43-page public comment submitted to the BLM in June. He wrote: “As further proof of the devastating frequencies emitted by industrial wind turbines, something that isn’t common knowledge is that in the early years of the first term of President Obama, a feasibility study was commissioned to look into the possibility of transforming the Nevada Testing Site into the world’s largest photovoltaic solar energy plant. Unfortunately, the proposed project was diverted by Senator Harry Reid, who replaced the idea of solar panels with industrial wind turbines. Although Congress approved the project, it was immediately shut down when government engineers and researchers at Area 51 let the President and Pentagon know that the frequencies emitted by industrial wind turbines would completely interfere with America’s advanced stealth technology tests. If the frequencies of industrial wind turbines could overwhelm the circuitry of our country’s most modern stealth circuitry, one can only imagine how much damage it can do to the even more delicate biological systems of all migrating birds, whom scientists now know rely on magnetic fields to accomplish their annual migrations.”

Such limitations on the siting of wind farms near air traffic corridors might have an impact on the implementation of Question 6, should voters approve the proposition again in two years. In November, 59 percent of the Nevada voters approved a change in the state law that currently requires 25 percent of the state’s electric power to come from renewable generation sources such as wind and solar by 2025. Question 6 upped the ratio to 50 percent by 2030, no matter the cost and practicality or whether carbon emissions are actually reduced.

It should be noted that Question 6 passed in only three counties — Clark, Washoe and Mineral. It failed in every other county by wide margins.

Wind and solar eyesores gobble huge tracts of land and the most likely candidates for such projects are generally cheap federal public land, primarily found in rural counties.

Only 22 percent of voters in Lincoln County approved of Question 6, only 26 percent in Eureka, 29 percent in White Pine and Esmeralda and 32 percent in Elko, for example.

Clark County, the site of the rejected Crescent Peak Wind Project, saw 64 percent voter approval.

It will be hard to generate 50 percent of the state’s electricity with solar power, since the sun shines only half the day.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.


30 comments on “Newspaper column: Whither renewable power after wind farm rejected?

  1. Steve says:

    This is what happens when politics control the dissemination of science.

    For instance, consensus becomes settled science.

    Total BS.

  2. Rincon says:

    While I agree that politics often corrupts the process of utilizing new knowledge, science is never completely settled and generally, is very skeptical and slow to accept new knowledge without extensive evidence. Consider for example, how quickly science ferreted out the sloppiness in cold fusion,

    While scientific knowledge and theory is frequently modified, and poorly performed research is common, it’s pretty unusual for “settled” knowledge to be upturned. It is common, however, for lay people to misunderstand what “settled” means. Many, for example, fault the scientists for demonizing eggs in the early days of cholesterol. At the time, the medical findings were only that people with high cholesterol had more heart attacks. This was and is correct. Scientists were acutely aware that the association only implied cause. The advice given about eggs was strictly preliminary in nature, which scientists made clear, but laypeople, who by and large are very poorly educated about science, took the advice as gospel.

    More often, existing interests slow or prevent good science from being utilized. Witness as examples, the recent story of chlorpyrofos, or the fact that we took decades to get the lead out of gasoline and paint, despite extensive evidence of the damage it caused. The same applies to reaching a consensus about smoking and cancer, etc. Scientists declared for decades that air and water pollution were unhealthy, but we allowed pollution to get to the point that the Cuyahoga River caught fire and in 1952, approximately 12,000 people died and 150,000 people were hospitalized in London over a four day period, before we took substantive action. It took science decades to prove beyond major doubt that secondhand smoke is detrimental to health. The evidence is now overwhelming. I could go on. I guess I just did.

  3. Steve says:

    Again…politics is the issue. Not science.

    But, by all means, go on ignoring the politics.

  4. Anonymous says:

    What a crock.

    Birds my eye. Frequencies? Geez.

    Dear God let us hang on until this group of fascist, anti human being right wing criminals are washed from our country by the next big blue tsunami. Couple more criminal revelations about the traitor in chief ought to do it.

  5. Steve says:

    But of course, Scientific American and Audubon are both totally right wing extremist organizations, Right Patrick?

    You political hack.

  6. Wendy says:

    I can guarantee that wind turbines are not manufactured using wind or solar energy. Steve, I agree with you. Renewables are driven by politics. Politicians spin issues into crises. Then, those who stand to profit through government subsidies manage to get things like Question 6 on the ballot. Voters are inundated with unscientific propaganda, and are somehow convinced our state constitution ought to be changed on that basis. Here’s a straightforward article from 2010:

  7. Steve says:

    Wendy, MasterResource is pretty one sided. They bring their politics to the table and interpret science as well as those on the left.

    I like unbiased sources.

  8. Wendy says:

    Steve, please name one. That article reads like logical common sense to me. 😉

  9. Deleted says:

    So wing and solar constitue a percentage of all power generated but Wendy is willing to “guarantee” that NONE if the power generated from those sources is used to manufacture some product.


  10. Steve says:

    That’s the problem. Subjectivity is what we use to decide bias when bias should be decided by third parties whose only goal is to determine bias.

    It reads well to you because it plays to your political lean.

    Read what the hack wrote about this. To “anonymous” everything reads as though its from the right most of that one’s sources are the likes of Huff, Vox and other far left extreme opinion outlets.

  11. Rincon says:

    Even though Audubon is a trustworthy source, they did fail to show one of the most important criteria for judging the hazards of wind turbines, which is, how does it decrease bird populations in comparison to other known hazards. As Audubon said, the bird deaths from turbines are a few hundred thousand. It turns out, assuming that Sibley is a reliable source, that bird deaths from windows, feral cats, electrical wires, cars, pesticides, communications towers, and probably hunting, are measured in millions, with windows responsible for almost a billion deaths- more than a thousand times more than wind turbines. Feral cats kill over 500 million birds every year. Deaths from both of these sources could be easily and substantially reduced.

    So why weren’t we bemoaning the far greater number of bird deaths before wind turbines came along? Because Conservatives want to adopt a specious argument against the turbines. The facts, as is often the case, don’t matter to them.

  12. Cats and windows kill sparrows. Turbines kill eagles.

  13. Steve says:

    From your silence on Scientific American, and recent comments about “nothing to criticise” in an article, we then find it proper and appropriate to conclude you agree windmills generate frequencies that interfere with stealth technology and associated research.

    Those frequencies are also very jarring to populations of people who live within earshot of the turbines.

  14. Steve says:

    I would wager there are more feral cats in the world than windmills.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Rincon you’ll never hear a discouraging word round these parts about killing, maiming, slaughtering, butchering, poisoning,mor eating any creature on Gods green earth unless it’s to stop some “green” initiative, then all their little hearts bleed crocodile tears.


  16. Steve says:

    Spin, baby, SPIN!

    Knew there was a reason your posts are all so dizzy.

  17. Rincon says:

    So far as I know, the Scientific American article says that new stealth technology is being used to improve the radar signatures of windmills, not that the windmills interfere with it. Frequency also does not seem to be the issue. I believe physically reflection of the radar signals is the cause of the problem.

  18. Steve says:

    Military secretes prevent such detail.

    Radar is totally dependent on frequency.

  19. Rincon says:

    The article suggests nothing about mysterious frequencies. It actually said, “Denmark’s Vestas, the world’s largest maker of land-based wind turbines, said the new blades would have a smaller radar signature.
    “We have used surface treatment technologies, including those derived from military applications,” said Nicolas Wolff, head of the Danish firm’s French unit.”

    They’re treating the surfaces of the blades with stealth technology, which makes objects less visible to radar. There’s no reference to your mysterious frequencies. Besides, the article is about solving this problem. If it”s solved, then what is your concern?

  20. Steve says:

    Radar is radio frequency. Military frequencies are inherently secret.

    Spinning blades send the returning wavelengths in all different directions. They do the same thing to sound frequencies.
    There was a time that stuffing aluminum foil in the wheels of your car would make police radar totally fail. It’s the same as spinning windmill blades.

    You will never get the military to be specific because they remain secret and they have the power to disallow any windmills to be installed anywhere the military decides those will affect military operations.

    It’s just plain fact.

  21. Rincon says:

    Go back to physics class, Steve. From Mythbusters: “It is possible to legally beat the police speed radar and/or lidar by covering the hubcaps in tin foil.
    The tin foil did not have any noticeable effect.”

    If you think aluminum foil works differently from tin foil or if you believe that only older radar technology was fooled, please provide a reasonable source of that information.

    Just as military jeeps use plain old internal combustion engines, the “technology” of wind turbine effects on radar is, according to the Scientific American article, straightforward. No secrets required (except for the solutions to the problem).

  22. Steve says:

    Lidar is LASER. And is very different from RADAR. (But light is a function of frequency too)

    I saw that episode. I already knew about newer radar systems. Of course, you won’t find much from the Ku band units, those were removed from the list of authorized speed detection units for police and LE in general. There are reasons for this.
    And there is the intent to test present technology, actually in use today, on the Mythbusters series.
    Back then moving balls of foil did scatter the returning radio waves. But Ku band is not X, K or Ka and so on. Frequency really (I mean REALLY) matters in this. (you keep trying to go back to how they don’t reference it, military secrets mean detail will not be revealed, but wind power generation remains disallowed within about 50 miles of any military range, at the discretion of the military. period)

    And LIDAR (Laser units) are, beatable with laser jammers. Mythbusters never tested these.
    All in all, it’s a cat and mouse game.

    Don’t try this, it stops those EZ pass toll booths found all over the East Coast.
    (Hint, it too, is illegal to use in this manner. But it is still funny.)

  23. Wendy says:

    Deleted — I guarantee you know what I meant.

  24. Rincon says:

    Since you did not provide a source of your information, it’s a stalemate. I’ll go with my physics professors.

  25. Steve says:

    Like I said, that is all old, as you also confirmed. Nevertheless, it is incontrovertible the military does not allow wind farms near any place they decide to block placement. For their reasons. And THAT is detailed in Scientific American.

    Go with the wind!

  26. Steve says:

    Hey Rincon, thanks for making me do the hunt. I am wrong about aluminum foil and that goes all the way back to 1956 in a Popular Electronics edition.
    I suspect the misinformation I was told back in the 60’s was due to the total fallibility of the radar guns in use in those days.
    I never tested it.
    Due to your challenge I found this;

  27. Rincon says:

    Thanks for checking, Steve. Someone actually set up a radar detector museum? Amazing! Kind of neat though, that someone went to the trouble to preserve that tiny little slice of history.

  28. Steve says:

    If you follow the LIDAR link, they test all kinds of detectors, including radar and even get into legality issues.

    To be clear, turns out blades (spinning or not) and towers on wind farms scatter radar returns to the extent they become useless, looking like thunderstorms, rain and hail.
    Materials have been created that claim to reduce this effect by 99% and that french wind farm was built in 2016.
    During my years as an F-15 tech at Nellis, one of the tings we were told about the F117A was it needed to be in hangars during the day because sunlight degraded its coating. I guess it remains to be seen how well these new materials hold up under real life conditions. (I was an in shop electronics tech, worked the radar antenna, radar transmitter, indicators and controls and radio, ils, tacan and iff systems.)

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