Wind Turbines Proposed On Black Lava Butte & Flat Top Mesa

A British company is proposing erecting several score of 195-foot high wind turbines in the desert north of Yucca Valley on Black Lava Butte and Flat Top Mesa north of Pipes Canyon Road between Pioneertown and Yucca Mesa.
London-based Element Power, which has its main North American office in Portland, Oregon, is doing exploratory work to determine whether it will seek to permit the project under the aegis of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, which calls for 33 percent of California’s commercially-produced electricity sales to be provided by renewable sources by 2020. Element believes that if it applies under the plan, its permits will be expedited.
In July 2011, Element Power erected two 197-foot high towers to conduct meteorological tests to collect data on wind speed and direction at that height at that location. The Bureau of Land Management in 2010 gave Element permission to build those towers. Element hopes to determine from that data whether building a wind farm at that location will prove commercially viable.
While some endorse the concept of aggressive corporate efforts to develop renewable energy and certain environmentalists embrace the wind farm concept, others, including some environmentalists, are opposed to the project proposal.
Some opponents cite the harm they perceive the placement of turbines will have on the desert vista. They and others find objectionable the harm they say the wind turbines will have on eagles, bats, and other birds that fly through or inhabit the area. Another point of protest hinges on  the possible destruction of Native American rock art and other archeological artifacts in the area. Other critics point out that the remote location of the wind field will require that the electricity be transported a considerable distance, and that a considerable percentage of the energy will be lost during that line transport.
If Element Power elects to proceed with the project, it will need to erect eight miles of transmission lines and towers to deliver the energy to the California Power Grid’s existing electrical transmission lines.
Three groups opposed to the project on environmental grounds, the California Desert Coalition, Save Our Desert, and the Center for Biological Diversity, are seeking to have that portion of the desert which was identified as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern in the Desert Protection Act introduced to Congress in 2011 extended to include Black Lava Butte and Flat Top Mesa.
There is also potential opposition to the project by another, non-environmentally-oriented group –  the Marine Corps. The Department of the Navy is seeking to expand the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base’s Desert Warfare Training Grounds west into Johnson Valley and military officials have concerns the towers could prevent aircraft from hugging the terrain as they carry out low-flying training missions in support of ground maneuvers.

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