Court rules in favor of Pattern Energy wind energy project

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Federal District Court for the Southern District of California ruled in favor of the Ocotillo Wind project and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in two separate suits before the court.

The court granted Pattern Energy Group's and the BLM's summary judgment motions in a case brought by the Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation and in a separate case brought by several other parties, including the Desert Protective Council. 

In issuing its decisions the court denied the challenges to the Ocotillo project and dismissed each of the many claims that had been asserted against the project by the plaintiffs.

The court concluded that the BLM and Pattern conducted thorough studies of the effects of the project and had adopted appropriate mitigation measures to avoid or minimize the project's impact. This decision is the latest in a string of favorable rulings issued by the federal court rejecting challenges to the Ocotillo Wind project.

"We are pleased with the Federal Court's decisions," said Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Energy. "These rulings confirmed that we and the BLM followed the rules, working with Native American tribes, community groups and local residents during the development process. We remain committed to building a renewable energy project responsive to the concerns of the local community and respectful of the environment and local cultural resources."

The Ocotillo Wind project, a 265 MW wind power project in Imperial Valley, has 94 wind turbines that are operational. The remaining 18 wind turbines will be installed in the spring. Once fully operational, the Ocotillo Wind project will provide enough clean and renewable energy to power nearly 125,000 homes in Southern California each year.

Ocotillo Wind will transmit power over the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line, which connects San Diego with the Imperial Valley.

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and the California Independent System Operator Corporation (ISO), the agency that manages most of the statewide grid, consider the Sunrise Powerlink one of the important mitigation measures that will help maintain electric reliability during heat waves.

Nearly 70 percent of the Ocotillo Wind project was 'made in America,' using 112 Siemens wind towers, blades and nacelles that were manufactured in the United States. More than 500 jobs were created during the construction of the project, which used many workers and subcontractors from the local region. Ocotillo Wind will also generate substantial tax revenues over the next 30 years, benefiting Imperial County and local schools, among others.

Ocotillo Wind is Pattern's sixth operational wind project, bringing the company's total to more than 1000 MW of installed wind power capacity. Pattern expects to bring a number of wind projects into construction over the next 12 months.

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POWERGRID International

April 2014
Volume 19, Issue 4
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ELECTRIC LIGHT & POWER

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