January 11, 2013

Energy company halts plans for wind project

A wind energy project proposed for Black Lava Butte and Flat Top Mesa will not move forward after plans were terminated by Desert Mesa Power. The company has been testing wind conditions at the site since 2011.

By Courtney Vaughn
Hi-Desert Star

PIPES CANYON — A proposed utility-scale wind energy project slated for Black Lava Butte and Flat Top Mesa will not move forward.

The Bureau of Land Management received a notification Thursday from Desert Mesa Power, LLC that it plans to terminate its right of way grant for wind testing.

Desert Mesa is owned by Element Power. The company installed two meteorological towers atop the buttes in July 2011 to test wind conditions on the public lands there.

Wind not conducive

In its letter to the BLM, the company stated it “does not believe that the wind resource at the site is conducive for further consideration for utility scale wind energy generation.”

California Desert Coalition and Save Our Desert released a joint statement Friday, saying the area should be off limits to industrial development.

“The work isn’t finished by any means,” Frazer Haney, president of SOD, stated. “We need to ensure permanent protection for these remarkable landforms...”

Both conservation groups collected thousands of signatures on petitions opposing the wind energy project.

SOD has been surveying the area’s flora, fauna and geological formations to register the buttes as important archaeological sites with the county museum.

According to the CDC, Desert Mesa Power planned to install 400-foot tall wind turbines on the buttes if wind patterns were favorable.

In November 2012, the Yucca Valley Town Council passed a resolution in opposition of the wind project, citing concerns of a scarred landscape and the destruction of biological resources. April Sall addressed the council, saying the proposal for a wind energy project in Pipes Canyon was left over from the Green Path North project previously proposed by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

“Our perseverance and hard work has paid off, and the enlightened public voice has been heard again. We are pleased that Element Power is withdrawing their application and that we are one step closer to maintaining our viewsheds and protecting the resources in and around the buttes,” Sall stated in a news release.

A representative from Element Power could not be reached for comment.