LOS ANGELES -- I spent Tuesday and Wednesday at Debs Park, seen in the photo, with about 60 other ecologists, lawyers, energy officials, lobbyists, planners, and wind company officers. It was windy, not outside, but inside the Audubon Center, where the future of wind energy was the topic.
Birds and bats have been being killed by the thousands at wind farms, especially at Altamont Pass CA, east of the SF Bay Area. The main message at this session was 'how to avoid another Altamont'.
To be sure, America and the world needs more wind energy now, and less coal. Global warming pollution is a giant threat to the future of life on earth as we know it. Smart people are trying to deal with it, including me and others at this meeting.
A major issue is where to locate wind farms to avoid or minimize impacts to birds, bats and wildlife. Ecologists, the wind industry, and natural resource agencies are working on this. Some projects have been poorly planned and located, and too many birds and bats are getting killed in the blades. We are learning more and need to adjust siting. More research is needed in many areas to better determine solutions.
Visionaries at the wind future session suggested more focus on 'energy independence' wind turbines and rooftop solar panels in urban areas, bringing clean energy production close to transmission lines and power demand centers. That is a great and important idea that I think millions of Americans will embrace, if they are helped and can afford to make the investment. Why leave all the energy in the hands of corporate monopolys when we can generate it ourselves with rooftop solar and small wind? As I looked around LA (and Tucson) I see many sites that could work, even some scattered around that could host a big turbine or two.
It is a must to cut per capita energy use now through better energy conservation in buildings and vehicles. I hope to work on better 'green building' energy standards through the Tucson Planning Commission.
Certainly to solve our energy problems and reduce global warming pollution we will need more wind energy facilities. Investors are starting to pour money into wind and it is coming in a bigger way to the USA. The spirit of smarts and cooperation between all parties this week in LA is promising for the future, but only if it continues.