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Mole's Progressive Democrat

The Progressive Democrat Newsletter grew out of the frustration of the 2004 election. Originally intended for New York City progressives, its readership is now national. For anyone who wants to be alerted by email whenever this newsletter is updated (usually weekly), please send your email address and let me know what state you live in (so I can keep track of my readership).

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

I am a research biologist in NYC. Married with two kids living in Brooklyn.

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  • Saturday, October 22, 2011

    HEY...some of those wind turbines are MINE!

    Last summer my family took a trip to the California deserts. I had been there many times...used to lead backpacking trips in some of those deserts and in the mountains nearby (the San Jacinto and San Gorgonio wilderness areas). But the rest of the family had never really been to the desert.

    We drove from Los Angeles over to Palm Springs. Took the tramway up to San Jacinto. Only the second time I had been up that side. When I led trips there would always go in from the other side (the Idyllwild side) and up the Devil's Slide Trail. The smell of the mountain, dominated by the maple-like smell of the sugar pines, brought back great memories. But after a brief hike and my son's first boulder climbing experience, we took the tramway back to Palm Springs. After a meal at what looked like a cheesy old restaurant but turned out to be pretty good (I believe it was called "Rick's" and had some pretty decent Cuban-style food) we headed up to Joshua Tree. Then out the other side, down along the Salton Sea (already dark so we didn't really see it). No restaurants open so a crappy late dinner of gas station food at the nearest station we could find E85 fuel for our rental car. Kids were tired and cranky, but Joy wanted to to soldier on through Anza Borrego desert...and so did I. So we packed the kids back in the car (they fell asleep eventually) and crossed Anza Borrego. We were chased by distant, massively awesome thunderstorms for awhile. In the middle we stopped, near midnight, and in the total silence, watched more stars than Joy, Sarah or Jacob had ever seen.

    Then back up to Los Angeles.

    On that trip, as we approached and passed Palm Springs, we saw many, many wind turbines. It was a wonderful site and we all thought it was great.

    Today I made a connection. I own stock in one of the companies that run those turbines. Some of those turbines (or some small piece of one, probably) is mine!

    Here is someone else who is as interested in the Palm Springs wind farms as I am:



    There are nearly 4000 wind turbines in the area around Palm Springs as you drive between the San Jacinto and San Gorgonio mountains. They generate 615 MW of power. To my family, as we passed these turbines, we saw this as the future. According to the IPCC:

    Renewable technologies could supply 80% of the world's energy needs by mid-century, says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).


    Well, today I found out about 450 of those turbines are owned by a company I have stock in: Western Wind Energy Corp. Back near the end of the Bush Administration I started looking into alternative energy companies and buying stock in a few. One solar company doubled soon after I bought it. I sold half of it to regain my initial purchase (soon after which the stock went back down, sadly...but I made some money) and used that to buy some Western Wind Energy Corp stock. It has also doubled in value, though more slowly, and hopefully more sustainably.

    I had done some research into the company and it looked good. But I didn't make the connection between what I had read and what we saw near Palm Springs until today. From the Western Wind Energy Corp website:

    The Company's Mesa Wind Farm is a 30 MW wind power facility located in the San Gorgonio Pass near Palm Springs, California. The assets include a right-of-way on 440 acres of land owned by the BLM, a PPA with SCE, 460 wind turbines, a collection system, a substation, roads and a maintenance building. The electricity production over the last nine years has been approximately 60 million kWh per year.

    Currently, of the original 460 65-kW Vestas V15 turbines, approximately 430 are still operational and most have been upgraded to 75 kW, therefore maintaining the nominal 30 MW capacity with fewer units. All operations and maintenance are subcontracted out to Airstreams Maintenance Corporation ("AMC"), an independent company that has extensive experience in operating and maintaining wind farms and overhauling wind turbines.

    The Company submitted a plan of development ("POD"), environmental and archaeological assessments required for a repower and expansion up to 50 MW to BLM. A leading consultant was engaged for a wind assessment study that determined the siting of the wind turbines for the redevelopment project of approximately 50 MW. Phase I of the redevelopment includes removing the existing turbines and installing 12 to 15 new, more efficient turbines. Phase II consists of installing an additional eight turbines and is dependent on obtaining transmission capacity. On September 21, 2009 the BLM issued a Record of Decision approving our redevelopment project and granted a 24-year ROW extension to September 22, 2037.


    That's some of the stuff we saw. Too bad we didn't know! We could have stopped and checked them out. Bet they'd give a shareholder a tour!

    The company has two projects working, two under construction, and four under development. Together, these projects aim to provide nearly 400 MW power in Arizona, California, Ontario, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Like I say...to me this is part of the future and I am proud to have a tiny part in it.



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