Humboldt Wind Project Faces Tough Scrutiny Despite Local Goal Of 100% Renewable Energy By 2025

For the second time in ten years, Humboldt County’s environmental community in coordination with neighborhood groups in the area hope to kill a wind power project proposed for Monument and Bear Ridge area south and west of Rio Dell in the most northerly part of California’s Lost Coast.

As an example, Friends of the Eel River’s Conservation Director, Scott Greacen, wrote recently,

While Friends of the Eel strongly believes that an accelerated transition to clean energy is needed to stem the worst impacts of climate change, infrastructure project siting is critical to a project’s suitability, and one of this size at this particular site could have dire impacts on imperiled wildlife and their habitat.  You may remember that Shell Energy had a similar proposal for the same site many years ago that was withdrawn in the face of strong community opposition.

The potential of Earth’s temperature crisis to altogether eliminate endangered species juxtaposed with environmentalists resistance to green power’s impacts on the local environment underscores the complexity of transforming a global power grid from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources and takes the scope of the conversation out of Humboldt County alone and joins it to the global effort to maintain a livable planet.

The Project

Just under a year ago, Humboldt County’s Planning Department announced that an applicant, Humboldt Wind LLC, a subsidiary of Terra-Gen, had applied to build the Humboldt Wind Energy Project, and that Humboldt County would be the lead agency in the CEQA process which would include an Environmental Impact Report.

Since then, Terra-Gen has completed the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on its proposal to build as many as 60 turbines, with 500 foot rotors, along two coastal ridges southwest of Rio Dell, to produce a maximum 155MW (155,000,000 watts)of renewable power. This is nearly equal to PG&E’s natural gas generation station at King Salmon which can deliver up to 163MW of power.

As part of the CEQA process, on Tuesday, the 28th of May, Terra-Gen hosted an open house in Ferndale at the Old Steeple to speak with the community about their proposed project. About 50 people attended the open house. Humboldt local Natalynn DeLapp, who is serving as a local liaison for the Humboldt Wind Energy Project, led the meeting.

If built at its proposed scale, the project’s energy production will be equivalent to just over a third of the Humboldt County’s current demand for electric power. However, staff from Terra-Gen stated that the plans are adaptable to input from the public and therefore details may change as the CEQA process moves forward. Already the project may pull back from most or all of its Bear River Ridge footprint after objections about its intrusion into the “Cape Mendocino Grassland” which is an important repository for native grasses and is also highly populated bird territory.

According to its website, Terra-Gen is a renewable energy company producing 1.3 GW through wind, solar and geothermal sources in the western United States. Locally, work on its proposed Humboldt Wind Generation Project in Humboldt County has already produced a completed Draft Environmental Impact Report with a public comment deadline that ended on the 14th of June.

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Humboldt Wind Project Faces Tough Scrutiny Despite Local Goal Of 100% Renewable Energy By 2025, by Kelley Lincoln, Redheaded Blackbelt, June 17, 2019.

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