Sponsored by Oregon Business

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

The Harder They Fall

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Storyteller-in-Chief by the managing partner of Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt.


The Shift to Community Health Care

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A conversation with Patrick Curran, CEO of CareOregon.


Cutting Edge

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

“There wasn’t a reason shaving with a straight razor should have been taken over by shaving with disposable razors.”


OEN takes Portlandia route in new video

The Latest
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 3.27.58 PMBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Several Portland entrepreneurs make appearance in patently silly "The Dream of the Startup is Alive in Oregon" promo.


Make the business case, governor

Linda Baker
Thursday, November 05, 2015
aoikatebrownthumbBY LINDA BAKER

Gov. Kate Brown delivered the keynote speech at the Associated Oregon Industries annual policy forum yesterday.  Speaking to a Republican-aligned audience of about 100 business and public policy leaders, the governor was out of her comfort zone.


Insurance pulse: health care and Export-Import banks

Linda Baker
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
111715-healthcarelindathumbBY LINDA BAKER

The past month has been marked by upheaval in the health insurance markets. I also check in on clients of the Export-Import bank, a federal credit agency that subsidizes, and insures, foreign exports.


Video: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon 2015

The Latest
Monday, October 05, 2015
100-best-NP-logo-2015-video-thumbVIDEO BY JESSE LARSON

Profiling some of the organizations featured in the 2015 list.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02