Sunday, July 24, 2011

More Clashes Between Green Energy and Property Rights

The LA Times reports today on the efforts of green technology firms to fill the Tehachapi Valley, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles, with enough wind turbines to make it look like a porcupine from the sky. The only problem is opposition from the Valley's residents, who find the turbines loud, noisy, ugly, environmentally hazardous, and destructive of their property values.

As we're seeing all over California these days, "going green" by government fiat has brought out the worst in both our bureaucrats and our environmentalists, with terrible consequences for the property owners unfortunate enough to live near these projects. Homeowners on the San Francisco Peninsula, for example, have filed two lawsuits opposing the state's High Speed Rail Project; apparently they're none too pleased about the idea of building ugly elevated rail track through some of California's most valuable land. Homeowners in San Diego County have fought SDG&E;'s construction of the Sunrise Powerlink through their property; the utility continues moving forward with the project in spite of the fact that there's no energy for the transmission line to transmit. Southern Cal Edison is covering the bedroom community of Chino Hills in 200-foot towers carrying electric lines from inland solar and wind farms. And, in the Antelope Valley, Los Angeles County's "Nuisance Abatement Teams" are forcing homewoners to destroy their houses; in what we're sure is a total coincidence, the County Supervisor directing the NATs is also pushing to add large numbers of wind and solar plants in the Valley.

And in the Tehachapi Valley, residents are finding their home values plunging as tax-starved Kern County is pushing for literally thousands more wind projects there. Homeowners worry they'll soon be surrounded by turbines. The presence of construction vehicles and helicopters related to the projects is interfering with the region's farming activities. Some worry about oil from the turbines leaking into well water, while others worry that the turbines will affect landing maneuvers at local airfields. Environmentalists worry about migrating birds being killed in large numbers. Moreover, the turbines' historically faulty wiring leads many to worry about fire dangers. There are concerns that clearing trees to make way for turbines could lead to soil erosion and dangerous floods. The fact that the Valley's soil is sedentary and sits on the Garlock fault line also creates the danger that the turbines could topple in an earthquake. Finally, because green tech firms aren't required to tear down broken turbines, critics say the area is already dotted with these eyesores.

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