Despite Promises of New Jobs & Clean Energy, Humboldt County Residents Say "No" to Wind Power

Humboldt County in northern California is known for its eco-friendly, laid back lifestyle.  Solar panels are a common site on homes, and organic food is the norm. Big box stores are rare, and respect for the natural environment is high.  One would assume green energy plans would go over big with residents, but that is not always the case in this region of strong opinions and community pride.

Shell WindEnergy has been looking at Ferndale, California for a small prospective wind farm since 2004.  This quaint Victorian village has been a popular spot for films such as Outbreak and The Majestic.  Residents of Ferndale, who in general are more conservative than other Humboldt residents, are adamantly opposed to the project.

The Eureka Times Standard reports:

The project would use up to 25 wind turbines along the ridge south of Ferndale. The turbines and towers would need to be transported up to the ridge, possibly through town. Construction to assemble the farm would take six to eight months once the equipment is brought on site, and any roads used will be restored or improved after construction, according to Shell representatives.

Residents expressed concern about construction noise and the addition of large trucks to the slew that already shake the houses along Main and Fifth streets. Many also spoke about the visual impact, light pollution for the night sky and the farm’s effect on property values.

Shell states 120 full-time jobs will be created during construction.  There could be up to 12 full-time employees needed to maintain the wind farm during ongoing operations.

During these times of economic recession, why would residents oppose new jobs?  Why would anyone oppose clean energy?  It’s a classic example of “not in my backyard” (NIMBY).

Wind farms typically do draw criticism from local residents who are concerned about noise and wildlife, as well as aesthetics.  I find wind turbines to be beautiful and mesmerizing; however, I do prefer the natural beauty of hills and mountains.  A wind farm is far more pleasing to the senses then fossil fuel burning power plant.

Wildlife preservation is important, and Shell is not a company to be trusted.  Yet at some point, we need to embrace greener forms of energy in our neighborhoods or reduce our energy consumption greatly.   I’d prefer a small wind farm to the proposed wave project off the coast of Humboldt, as less species would be affected.  Of course, there is always the marbled murrelet to consider.

Wind power is not perfect, but we need to take responsibility for the overconsumption of energy in America.  Solutions that please everyone are hard to find.

  1. Keith

    Without storing the energy from wind generation so that it can be used when needed, it needs to be paired with a fossil fuel generator – usually natural gas. The more wind turbines that go up, the more gas plants that get built and the more fracking takes place. If we’re going to use renewable energy we should do it right. What is taking place is a mockery of green energy. Either store the power or pair it with another form of renewable energy which is controllable such as biogas.

  2. Susan

    50 story turbines in a lovely rural setting? That not “NIMBY”, that’s insane!
    These things are half the size of the empire state building the top 2/3 of which are rotating…and are being built for the subsidies NOT for the long term. They aren’t worth the degridation of the area.

  3. Perry

    There are many aspects of environmentalism and green consciousness and while finding alternatives to fossil fuel is certainly one aspect of focus, conserving wildlife and preserving natural lands and rural environments from the impacts of industry is another. This is not about NIMBYism. That insult just a convenient dismissal of the very real concerns of many environmentalists and conservationists who are not as convinced as some of the “green” nature of giant industrial wind turbines.

    I think people have this romanticized view of “windmills” and don’t realize these are monstrous, whirring metal giants made from tons of fossil fuel elements, standing in huge cement footings that damage ground and water (not to mention habitats and wildlife!), creating constant noise and motion that kills birds and other flying wildlife and requires fossil fuels to power and run when the wind isn’t as cooperative as required. They have a huge footprint and if you go up the freeways near Altamont you’ll see thousands of them that have now been abandoned for new technology and will likely become a SuperFund site one fine day….how green is all that, I ask?

    Every environmentalists is passionate about saving this planet but most want it done in a way that is responsible and takes into account ALL aspects of the environment, not just one. That includes preserving our beautiful little rural towns, our natural environments and our wilderness and wildlife. Industry has its place…but it doesn’t have the right to take the place of these essential very essential things.

  4. Dan

    This is not a case of NIMBY. These monsters should not be in anyone’s back yard. Most industrial wind turbine complexes are located on thousands of acres of land away from populated areas. Without tax payer subsidies this project would not happen. I have seen these giant wind turbines in other parts of the county and most are just sitting there doing nothing. It is all about the government subsidies. It is not about clean energy. When the turbines are no longer of use, they are left to clutter the hillsides. No one wants to spend the money to remove them. This is another example of government rushing in to spend money without fully exploring the consequences.

  5. Nancy

    The disruption to the landscape of our unique redwood forest will not be reversible if the miles and miles or transmission lines are allowed to be built and the roads scraped away to provide access to these turbines. Spotted Owl habitats and murlett flight patters will be destroyed. Murletts will simply be diced up by these blades. 40′ wide paths for trucks to bring in supplies will be scrapped. Clear cutting of roadways. The Mattole Rd will be forever realigned. Scrapped clean of foliage and redwood trees. And damaging the ancient paths of our deer, bear, mt lions and other animals.

    The flicker effect of the blades can be seen for miles and the night lighting ( FAA requirement ) of the blades will be there FOREVER. This is a 30 year multi phase project. As long as subsidies hold out. And if the subsidies go away SWE will walk away abandoning the sight. Check out what they did in Hawaii.

    This windfarm will blight the lives of people around it and do ir reversable damage to the forest.

    SWE comes in stating they support the community with an investment of money into it. They are just bribing those communities and organizations
    for their support. But the children are at risk for low level health impacts ( there is documented facts to this ).

    Call it NIMBY if you want. But putting money in the pockets of SHELL WINDENERGY at the expense of our forest. At the expense of damaging one of the last ancient forest areas in the WORLD simply makes no sense.

    YEP it’s my backyard and SHELL can just get the heck out of it!

  6. Wynne Benti

    Thank you to Humboldt County for having the courage to say no and for posting this information.

    There are 37+ million (37,000,000) people living in California. The PG&E/BrightSource Ivanpah project in the Mojave cost $2-3 BILLION ($3,000,000,000) to build. Three-quarters of that $3,000,000,000 was subsidized our tax payer dollars (and US debt). It will provide power for 375,000 homes with homeowners paying the same or increased rates. Hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands will be lost. Imagine if $500 million was given to physicists at MIT, Harvard, CalTech to develop a better solar or wind “harvester”.

    I’m in Inyo County, where our planning commission has just inked an amendment to the County’s general plan that will open open thousands of acres of beautiful unspoiled public lands, in the Owens Valley, Panamint and Deep Springs Valleys to solar and wind projects. All it needs is the approval of the supervisors. If there is any landscape left in the U.S. free of development, these places in the Owens Valley are it.


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