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

Get on the bus!

April 2015
Thursday, March 19, 2015
BY APRIL STREETER

How the private sector can ride the next transit revolution.


Read more...

Beyond Bodegas

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Five years in the making, the Portland Mercado — the city’s first Latino public market — will celebrate its grand opening April 11. A $3.5 million public-private partnership spearheaded by Hacienda CDC, the market will house 15 to 20 businesses in the food, retail and service sectors. It has some big-name funders, including the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and JPMorgan Chase. The project goals are equally ambitious: to improve cross-cultural understanding, alleviate poverty and spur community economic development. 


Read more...

The 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon

March 2015
Thursday, February 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

Employment in Oregon is almost back up to prerecession levels — and employers are having to work harder to entice talented staff to join their ranks. This year’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon project showcases the kind of quality workplaces that foster happy employees. 


Read more...

Emperor of the Sea

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD | Photos by Jason E. Kaplan

Pacific Seafood, one of the world’s largest processors, is rebranding as a more transparent and consumer-friendly operation. A controversial CEO and monopoly accusations from coastal fishermen complicate the tale.


Read more...

Bike Chic: 7 stylish options for cyclists

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cycling to work is all the rage. But not everyone wants to arrive at the office messy, sweaty — and unfashionable.


Read more...

5 questions about the FLIR FX

The Latest
Wednesday, April 08, 2015
FLIR-FX-IndoorBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The Wilsonville-based company is targeting GoPro enthusiasts with its latest release. Is spy gear poised to go mainstream?


Read more...

On the Road

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

My daughter turned 18 last week, and for her birthday I got her a Car2Go membership. Not to label myself a disruptor or anything, but it felt like a groundbreaking moment. The two of us, mother and child, were participating in a new teen rite of passage: Instead of handing over the car keys, I handed over a car-sharing card — with the caveat that she not use the gift as her own personal car service.


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