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Which Way the Wind Blows 

Editor:

I am grateful that in his op-ed Greg King brought to light the financial distress Terra-Gen is experiencing at this time. ("Hook, Line and Turbine," July 4). Their desperation to push this project through for the sake of the current tax breaks that expire in 2020 no doubt account for the rushed and incomplete DEIR they submitted. Perhaps this San Diego-based corporation sees Humboldt County as a giant GoFundMe site where we are expected to donate/sacrifice our natural beauty and the health of our people, forests, birds, fish and rivers so as to assure the stability of their bottom line.

You may have seen in print a sentence stating how many Humboldt homes this project could supply with energy. The key word here is "could." On June 10, I was present at the Fortuna Chamber of Commerce luncheon when the local Terra-Gen representative was asked about this potential improvement. She said Terra-Gen has submitted a proposal to the Redwood Coast Energy Authority as to this possibility but they are still in discussion on the topic. So at present, the could is like a "maybe or a might." Our sacrifices might end up sending energy to Marin County.

As I drive north on U.S. Highway 101 from Fortuna, I am enjoying the fresh new surfacing Caltrans is laying down during these dry months. Now I wonder how they will look and feel once Terra-Gen starts 10,000 truck trips, with trucks up to 90 feet long and weighing 110 tons. In their DEIR, Terra-Gen states that once construction is completed, repair work on 101 will be paid for by the taxpayers.

Right now, it looks like Humboldt County gets all the pain for no gain.

Jo Anne Godinho, Fortuna

Editor:

I respect Greg King and his work but he makes serious mistakes in justifying his opposition to Terra-Gen's proposed wind project ("Hook, Line, and Turbine," July 4).

Project supporter Michael Winkler makes his living, in part, by helping to develop solar power and is hardly the solar naysayer King describes ("Why I Support Terra-Gen's Wind Project," June 27). And Terra-Gen's approval could never open the door to wind farms at Patrick's Point, Trinidad Head or the Bald Hills. Those places are protected in state and national parks.

King describes wind farms as fire risks. This is unlikely according to research done in 2014 by www.carbonbrief.org ("How Often Do Wind Turbines Catch Fire?"), which found that claims that fires were common to be exaggerated.

Every day we consume electricity from the natural gas plant at Fields Landing, pleasantly oblivious to the environmental impacts of the mining of that gas from places hundreds of miles away and only peripherally aware of the effects of climate change.

There are serious concerns about the environmental impacts of the Terra-Gen proposal, particularly its impacts on wildlife, which King accurately notes. Wind is a public resource and the county should demand that we get the best deal, including the fewest environmental impacts, if anyone is to harness it for electricity. But throwing out inaccurate claims doesn't help this difficult discussion.

Patrick Carr, Arcata

Editor:

Greg King's recent Journal column ('Hook, Line, and Turbine," July 4) has serious misconceptions and certainly a tinge of NIMBYism.

King's statement that "installation of rooftop solar panels ... does more to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions than wind farms ever could" is flat wrong. Let's do some solar dreaming. There are about 63,000 homes in Humboldt County. If every home had a sunny rooftop and if we installed 3 kW of solar panels on every one, we'd get about 230,000 MWh per year of solar electricity. Even in this mythical scenario, that's less than half the output of Terra-Gen's wind farm. Rooftop solar is wonderful — I've had panels on my roof for more than three decades — but it just can't match the output of the wind turbines.

King writes in a heartfelt way about the environmental impacts of the Terra-Gen project and he details many of those impacts. He's right; there will be impacts. There are always impacts when we generate electricity and we live in an increasingly electricity intensive society. But we in Humboldt County have a responsibility to generate the power we use and not dump our impacts in someone else's backyard. We're fortunate to have a powerful local wind resource and a carefully planned wind farm to utilize it. And despite King's admonitions, I applaud the Redwood Coast Energy Authority for purchasing local, renewable wind power for our use.

But there's a much larger issue here. Our planet is on fire. Climate change is occurring more rapidly than anyone expected; children alive today will experience a very different world than we're used to. We must stop pumping carbon into the atmosphere and local, renewable energy generation is a small, but important step in the right direction. We've got to do our part to save our planet.

Peter Lehman, Arcata

Editor:

When I cautioned Terra-Gen's senior ecologist that Monument and Bear River ridges are sacred biodiversity hot spots, he replied: "They all say that," referring to other communities slated for industrial wind projects in virgin territory. Of course, "they" are right.

Fortunately, "re-powering" provides clean wind power sources. Sonoma Clean Power recently replaced 283 old wind turbines with 20 modern ones in its Alameda County facility supplying Sonoma and Mendocino with electricity.

In Tehachapi, Vestas is installing 13 wind turbines that "will produce over three times the electricity than the almost 400 old turbines that they will replace."

Terra-Gen's turbines in Tehachapi with "nameplate" output of 332 MW are more than 20 years old.

The U.S. wind industry completed 15 repowering projects totaling 2,136 MW compared to 7,000 megawatts added by the U.S. wind industry in 2017, resulting in these accolades from wind energy experts:

"It's extending the life of these projects without having to build a new wind farm, by taking advantage of existing infrastructure, project locations and power purchase agreements to help save costs;" "Repowering benefits everyone with lower cost to consumers and higher performance of the turbines;" "...and the wind resource is well known, which lowers the risk of the project;" "jobs."

We can buy wind power off the grid, like we do with imported hydro and solar, sourced from companies that repower derelict sites, while we transition to "resilient energy."

We need not compete with Terra-Gen in megawatt hours to fulfill our needs and reduce our carbon footprint. RCEA could shift our emphasis from becoming a "net energy exporter" with massive impacts to becoming a provider of widespread, low impact, decentralized public and private rooftop solar smart micro-grids. These advanced systems scale up to benefit individuals, neighborhoods, communities, even cities and accelerate the use of affordable, clean, electric vehicles.

Ken Miller, McKinleyville

Editor:

Thank you for keeping this issue in the public's view. The article by Greg King was informative but failed as other such articles have done to address the enormous and negative impact this project will have on Fields Landing, the supposed entry by sea option for the delivery of all of this material.

Nor have I seen mention of the impact to the Calvary Community Church, which sits on Depot Road in Fields Landing, the apparent main thoroughfare for the transportation inland of this equipment. Also no mention of the fact that church land will need be confiscated, at least temporarily, for the storage of these items.

It has come to my attention that the church had not been informed nor their input sought on their feelings about this proposal.

Carol Michael, Fields Landing

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