SAY NO TO THE OCOTILLO WIND ENERGY FACILITY PROJECT. PROTECT OUR HEALTH, OUR LAND AND OUR HISTORY.
Developing alternatives to fossil fuels is essential to the survival of our species, but this is the wrong project in the wrong place.
Pattern Energy proposes to build the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility on 20 square miles of public land around the desert community of Ocotillo, 90 miles east of San Diego at the cost of over a half billion dollars. They are proposing 112 wind turbines, each one as high as a forty story building. Most of the 266 people in the community live within two miles of the turbines.
Studies done all over the world indicate that residents living in such close proximity to turbines suffer frequently from illnesses including chronic sleep deprivation, hypertension and heart attacks as a result of the low frequency noise. Ocotillo is made up largely of senior citizens, a group which has been found to be exceptionally sensitive to the effects of the turbines.
Moreover, the project will affect the health of the other 175,000 Imperial County residents in at least two specific ways. As the desert crust is broken to install the massive turbines and to build 42 miles of service roads, large quantities of dust will be released. All the other communities of Imperial County are downwind of Ocotillo, so the 20.2% of the county’s children who have been diagnosed with asthma will likely face increased hospitalizations and absences from school. Also, we can expect an increase in Valley Fever, a fungal infection caused by inhaling the release of spores found in previously undisturbed desert soils. Valley Fever affects the lungs and according to an Arizona study done by employees of the Arizona Department of Public Health the CDC, the median duration of diagnosed cases is four months. The same study found that 41% of the diagnosed cases were hospitalized at a median cost of $33,000 per hospitalization. New cases of Valley Fever have occurred in Imperial County since the work started on the Sunrise Powerlink and many more can be expected with the much greater scope of the wind turbine project on the local desert.
There are many other concerns. The public land chosen for the project was a migration route for native Americans and is filled with unstudied artifacts. Most of the tribes of the area are opposing this project. Botanists have commented that in few places in the world have such a variety of desert vegetation. And the project area is also a habitat for big horn sheep and golden eagles.
Do we need renewable energy? Of course we do! In Ocotillo the sun shines 360 days a year, but winds are only seasonal. The amount of energy that can be produced at this facility does not justify the destruction of an established community and its surroundings. Alternatives such as solar rooftop are not even being discussed in Imperial County. This project is being undertaken because Pattern Energy is planning to build on our land and with our money--many millions of dollars in grants, loan guarantees and tax credits.
I am against the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility Project that it is currently being built by Pattern Energy in Imperial County, CA. I am deeply concerned about
• the health and well-being of the residents of Ocotillo. Studies of the illnesses caused by excessive exposure to low frequency noise cannot be ignored.
• the dust that will blow in to the entire county and add to our health problems, especially affecting children with asthma.
• the almost certainty that interference with the desert crust will bring a slew of cases of the serious and costly disease, Valley Fever.
• the destruction of the beautiful desert and mountain views found in Ocotillo.
• the destruction of our history which lies in abundant artifacts in this land.
• the death of birds and the destruction of big horn sheep habitat.
• the fact that Pattern Energy Group depends on using our land and our tax dollars, but the profit will be theirs. (see Wall Street Journal article http://blogs.wsj.com/venturecapital/2010/12/10/loss-of-renewable-energy-grants-could-threaten-smaller-projects/)
• the fact that officials are not seeking ways to make rooftop solar affordable for homeowners and business, thus avoiding the above mentioned problems.
I recognize the urgent need for jobs in Imperial County. The jobs created in the construction of this project will be temporary. The damage created will be permanent.