Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Solano County considers more wind turbines

Article Last Updated: Tuesday, Aug 02, 2005 - 11:43:05 pm PDT

County considers wind turbines

By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - Six more electricity generating wind turbines with towers taller than the Statue of Liberty could be coming to the Montezuma Hills.They are to replace 90 smaller, obsolete turbines that were installed during the early 1990s and removed last year.

The six turbines are would be erected on 320 acres. But first, the Solano County Planning Commission wants to discuss how many birds might be killed by spinning blades. It wants to know how the behemoths will look from Highway 12.Commissioners meet at 7 p.m. at the county Government Center, 675 Texas St.Montezuma Hills is the county's designated area for wind turbines. Several hundred turbines are already located in the rural hills between Suisun City and Rio Vista.

In recent years, turbine models have gotten bigger and taller. The six turbines proposed by enXco Inc. are to have 262-foot-tall towers with three rotor blades.By comparison, the Statue of Liberty is 151 feet tall from foot to the top of the torch and Monticello Dam that forms Lake Berryessa is 300 feet tall. Wind turbines were about 80 feet tall when they started going up in the Montezuma Hills during the early 1990s.

The Planning Commission discussed the six replacement towers in September 2004. They had questions that couldn't be answered at the time. Among their concerns were bird kills. A new study says the six wind turbines might kill an average of 7.2 birds annually, compared to 6.65 birds killed by the 90 smaller turbines they are replacing. However, the mortality rate for golden eagles is expected to fall from .198 annually to .066. The mortality rate for red-tailed hawks is expected to fall from 1.89 annually to .792. The study concluded the number of bird kills would be biologically insignificant to the local populations.

Commissioners also wanted to see more simulated photos showing how the turbines will look from Highway 12. The new study includes such photos that show the turbines visible over hills in the distance. The six turbines are only part of a far larger project. EnXco in 2001 bought the wind project consisting of 4,020 acres in the Montezuma Hills, with several hundred turbines.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at

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