North Peak Wind
Why We Say NO
An Industrial Wind Plant on Our Fragile Desert Ridgelines
The Bureau of Land Management has announced that E.ON Climate & Renewables has withdrawn its application to develop the North Peak Wind Project. While this is great news for everyone who cares about the California desert, the Alliance for Desert Protection is now leading the way to have Juniper Flats (where the project would have been sited) declared National Conservation Land. This will ensure that this beautiful, fragile landscape will remain forever as it is—an undeveloped place where visitors and locals alike can retreat to hike, watch birds, drive off-highway, and simply find quiet and solitude.
We are leaving the following information posted on our website as a cautionary tale of what can happen in our desert if we are anything less than vigilant.
We urge you to sign our petition to preserve Juniper Flats.
E.ON Climate & Renewables, the subsidiary of a giant German energy company, is targeting 10,433 acres of pristine desert ridgetops in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California for an industrial-scale wind plant. The project would place 71 wind turbines, each 500 feet high, on undeveloped public land that is highly sensitive ecologically, and extremely prone to fire danger. From Lucerne Valley to Apple Valley, desert and mountain land will be cleared, blasted, and leveled for this massively destructive project.
A foreign company would reap millions in federal subsidies for this project that offers no benefit to the people who would suffer its consequences.
This land is our land. It lies within the California Desert Conservation Area and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The agency that is supposed to protect it. The agency that will decide its future.
NORTH PEAK WOULD DESECRATE PRISTINE DESERT RIDGETOPS
This is not just a major construction project—it is wide-scale destruction of our desert habitat. E.ON’s proposal calls for roads as wide as 44 feet to accommodate mammoth turbine components, cranes, bulldozers, and construction equipment. This is not a “green” project. It is a massive industrial plant that will forever destroy the beauty and quiet of the High Mojave Desert. The project includes:
• 71 giant, 500-foot-high wind turbines
• Rotors 384 feet in diameter (longer than the wingspan of a 747 airliner)
• 2,500-square-foot foundation, 30 feet deep, for each turbine
• Operations & Maintenance Facility sprawled across 3 acres on a virgin mountain plateau
• Power Substation Switchyard the size of two football fields side-by-side
• Meteorological Towers and Concrete Batch Plant
• Extensive road widening, land-clearing, and topsoil removal
• Miles of new transmission lines and towers
IT WOULD CREATE EXTREME FIRE DANGER
According to wildland fire-suppression specialist Al Solorio, former San Bernardino National Forest division fire chief for the Arrowhead Ranger District:
“This is an area with extremely dangerous fire conditions. The presence of 71 wind turbines would create very hazardous conditions for helicopters and air tankers sent to fight fires. With 500-foot wind turbines, there’s no way to suppress those fires. You wouldn’t be able to mount an initial aerial attack. Instead of having the capability of putting out fires when they’re small, we’d be fighting much larger fires, with consequences to life and property.”
The turbines themselves pose extreme fire risk:
• Each turbine contains up to 240 gallons of highly flammable lubricants and transmission fluids
• Fire-sparking hazards include lightning strikes and rotor failures—grave threats in our tinder-dry desert mountains
• Blazing turbines send flaming shards into the air and onto bone-dry vegetation
• Extinguishing a fire quickly atop a 500-foot turbine is virtually impossible
• “Firefighters everywhere have said when a turbine burns, all that they can do is watch and allow them to burn themselves out.” —Bangor Daily News (Maine)
IT WOULD KILL EAGLES AND OTHER ENDANGERED SPECIES
Wind turbine blades spin at 180 mph, accounting for the slaughter of more than half a million birds annually, according to the American Bird Conservancy. The North Peak area has nesting golden eagles, bald eagles, and is a major flyway for migratory birds. The project will profoundly affect the ability of bighorn sheep and mountain lions to move through land they have lived in for thousands of years. Five species of carbonate plants in the project area are found nowhere else in the world.
33 Special-status wildlife have been documented in and near the project area, including:
• Golden Eagle: state and federally protected species
• Five nesting eagles within 10 miles of project area
• One golden eagle nest immediately adjacent to project area
• Bald Eagle: state endangered, protected by Eagle Protection Act
• Bald eagles overwinter and breed in the San Bernardino National Forest adjacent to the project area
• Southern Spotted Owl: federally sensitive species, state species of special concern
• Desert Tortoise: state and federally threatened
• Least Bell’s Vireo: state and federally endangered
• Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo: state endangered species, federally proposed endangered species
• Southwestern Willow Flycatcher: state and federally endangered
• Mohave Ground Squirrel: state threatened
• Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat: state species of special concern
IT WOULD DESTROY POPULAR RECREATIONAL LAND
Residents and visitors come to this area, known as the Grapevine Canyon Recreational Land, to enjoy hiking, bird-watching, mountain biking, desert wildflowers, and 4WD touring. Many come for the meditative silence of the pristine foothills and ridgetops. If North Peak is approved, they would instead find a sprawling industrial zone. The area includes or borders:
• Fantastic boulder formations, favorites of local rock climbers
• The Pacific Crest National Scenic Hiking Trail
• Deep Creek, a state-designated Wild Trout Stream proposed for federal Wild and Scenic River status.
• Deep Creek Hot Springs, dearly loved by those who visit and care for them, and home to the endangered southwestern arroyo toad.
• Juniper Flats ACEC (Area of Critical Environment Concern)
• Native American cultural resources
IT WOULD SEND PROPERTY VALUES PLUMMETING
Around the country and around the world, property values for homes near industrial wind facilities decline at rates similar to that for homes near coal-fired power plants. A local appraiser reports that property values in the area have already started to decline—simply because this monstrously destructive project has been proposed. Here’s why property owners should be concerned:
• The visual blight of 500-foot wind turbines destroys a prime attraction of High Desert real estate: pristine mountain and desert views
• Our desert skyline will be scarred forever
• Each turbine will be visible from 30 or more miles away, day and night
• Our star-filled night sky will be ruined with blinking red aviation lights atop each tower, required by the FAA
• Well-documented health risks (Wind Turbine Syndrome) will discourage potential buyers
• Fire hazard of wind turbines puts nearby homes and property at extreme risk
North Peak would permit construction of seventy-one 50-story-tall skyscrapers between a rural residential zone and a national forest. In any other civic entitlement process, it would be thrown out as a gross example of spot zoning—illegal and indefensible. It is not unlike placing an airport in the middle of an area zoned for health care, child care, and retirement homes.
GIANT WIND TURBINES ARE ASSOCIATED WITH SERIOUS HEALTH EFFECTS
New York pediatrician Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD, is the country’s leading researcher into the health effects of giant wind turbines. She has treated patients and exhaustively studied their common symptoms, which collectively are known as Wind Turbine Syndrome. She explains that low-frequency noise emitted by wind turbines affects the human vestibular system; that is, tiny organs in the inner ear. The effects include:
• Sleep disturbance
• Panic episodes
• Ear pressure
• Visual blurring
• Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
• Problems with concentration and memory.
“It is absolutely essential that windmills not be sited any closer than 1.25 miles from people’s homes or anywhere else people regularly congregate,” says Dr. Pierpont. “In hilly or mountainous topographies, where valleys act as natural channels for noise, this 1.25-mile setback should be extended anywhere from 2 to 3 miles from homes.”
Yet the North Peak Wind Project would put giant turbines within 3 miles of dozens of homes, as well as a meditation retreat center. The turbines would tower atop ridgetops overlooking a desert valley—precisely the kind of worst-case-scenario landscape Dr. Pierpont refers to.
THE ENERGY GOES EVERYWHERE BUT HERE
Who would get to use any energy that North Peak would generate? Not the people of the Mojave Desert. According to the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), here’s where High Desert energy would go:
• 25% to load centers in Southern California
• 25% to load centers in Northern California
• 25% to load centers in the Pacific Northwest
• 25% to load centers in states of the Southwest, including Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico
Locals would have nothing to gain and everything to lose should this irresponsible wind plant gain approval from the Bureau of Land Management.
THIS IS NOT A DEVELOPER WE WANT IN OUR MIDST
E.ON Climate & Renewables Development operates 16 wind projects in the United States and is facing lawsuits over at least two of them. A lawsuit filed by 60 residents in Texas states that E.ON “carelessly and negligently failed to adequately disclose the true nature and effects that the wind turbines would have on the community, including the plaintiffs’ homes.” The lawsuit seeks damages for:
• Significant problems to residents
• Diminution of property values
• Destruction of their homes and lifestyle
• Loss of use and enjoyment of their properties
• Relocation costs and lost time spent relocating their homes
• Mental anguish
• Destruction of scenic countryside
• Physical pain and suffering
• Difficulty sleeping
• Interference with electrical functioning of their homes, such as satellites, telephone, and television
• Loss of business profits
• Need for future medical monitoring and/or medical care
E.ON is also being sued for $1.8 million by Sheldon Township, Illinois, for failing to adequately restore roads used to build a 94-turbine wind project in 2011. That lawsuit was filed in 2013 and is still pending.
“THE DAMAGING IMPACTS OF THIS PROPOSAL ARE BREATHTAKING IN NUMBER AND SCOPE.”
Those were the words of San Bernardino County Supervisors Robert Lovingood and James Ramos, who wrote a letter to the Bureau of Land Management expressing their strong opposition to the North Peak Wind Project.
We agree. Do you?
TAKE ACTION NOW!
Tell your government officials that you are against these projects.
Sign the petition to express your opposition to these industrial-scale projects.