Conflict in the wind

| Print |  Email
Articles - December 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011

By Lee Van der Voo // Illustrations by Ana Mouyis

1211_Wind_01The exact speed of the wind on this flat-topped butte is confidential. But on the towering plateau 32 miles east of Bend, wind whips across the sagebrush at 5,000 feet, piling snow up by the foot in winter. It’s a landscape mostly left to sage grouse and eagles, pygmy rabbits and bats. Increasingly in Oregon, such lands are also welcoming new residents: windmills.

Pacific Wind Power, owned by 69-year-old John Stahl of Santa Barbara, plans construction of a 104-megawatt wind farm on West Butte. The company is still pursuing financing for the project, but when its 52 wind turbines start turning, Stahl hopes next year, a 4.5-mile road will reach across federally managed land from Highway 20, making it one of two wind projects to lease public lands in Oregon. On the new frontier of renewable energy, this is our pioneer.

Driven to the butte by a federal policy that makes renewable energy a priority for public lands — a silver bullet intended to address climate change, energy independence and job creation in one — it comes with blessings from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The agency’s effort to help developers, state and local governments, and landowners develop wind farms and solar arrays nationwide was sanctioned by an Interior Department order in 2009, aiming to put 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy leases on national public land by the end of 2012.

But conflicts with existing residents of the land — birds and bats primarily, along with cattle-grazing ranchers and hunters — are an unfortunate result. With a mandate to site renewable energy projects, but no real rules as to how, it falls to conservationists, government officials and others to define where renewable energy will fit into public lands in Oregon, even as 177,847 acres are currently being studied or developed for wind farms.



 

More Articles

Quake as metaphor

Linda Baker
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
071515-earthquakia-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The Big One serves as an allegory for Portland, a city that earns plaudits for lifestyle and amenities but whose infrastructure is, literally, crumbling.


Read more...

Best Foot Forward

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE

Whether you're stepping out to work or onto the track, Pacific Northwest shoe companies have you covered.


Read more...

Photo Log: Waterfront Blues Festival

The Latest
Thursday, July 09, 2015
bluesfestthumbBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The sweltering weather didn't keep the crowds away. Although the numbers were down slightly from last year, the Oregon Food Bank raised $850,636 to fight hunger.  About 80,000 people attended despite temperatures in the upper 90s.


Read more...

Department of Self-Promotion

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 17, 2015

061715-awards1Oregon Business wins journalism awards.


Read more...

Storyteller in Chief: Natural Prophets

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY SAM BLACKMAN

Storyteller-in-chief with the CEO and co-founder of Elemental Technologies.


Read more...

Store Bought

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Market of Choice is on a tear. In 2012 the 35-year-old Eugene-based grocery chain opened a central kitchen/distribution center in its hometown. The market opened its third Portland store in the Cedar Mill neighborhood this year; another outpost in Bend broke ground in March. A fourth Portland location is slated for the inner southeast “LOCA” development, a mixed-use project featuring condos and retail. Revenues in 2014 were $175 million, a double-digit increase over 2013. CEO Rick Wright discusses growth, market trends and how he keeps new “foodie” grocery clerks happy.


Read more...

Balancing Act

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY DAN COOK

The Affordable Care Act has triggered a rush on health care plan redesign, a process fraught with hidden costs and consequences.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS