Terra-Gen Wind Project – DENIED!

Vista from the denied wind turbine site on Bear River Ridge. The Eel River Valley, Fortuna, Hydesville, Kneeland, Rio Dell and Scotia are all visible in the photo. Courtesy: City of Rio Dell


As of December 17, 2019 – The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to oppose Terra-Gen’s Humboldt Wind Energy. View more information on Lost Coast Outpost.

About the Project

Humboldt Wind, LLC proposes the construction and operation of a wind energy project of up to 155 MW, with a project footprint involving 124 parcels, beginning west of State Highway 101, south of Rio Dell and Scotia, and terminating east of State Highway 101 in Bridgeville at the PG&E substation. Specific project components consist of:

  • Up to 60 wind turbines with maximum height of 591 feet from base to highest point of blade rotation, set on concrete foundations.
  • A 19 mile underground fiber optics communications system and electrical collection system linking the turbines to each other and to a substation for distribution into the General Transmission (Gen-tie) line.
  • A 115 kiloVolt (kV) Gen-tie line of approximately 32 miles would transport the energy generated by the wind towers. The Gen-Tie line would begin at a new substation located west of Highway 101, span in an eastward direction, and cross under the Eel River. Once across the river, the Gen-Tie line would continue eastward as an overhead line and connect to the PG&E Bridgeville Substation for distribution into the power grid. PG&E substation expansion and improvements would be required.
  • The wind tower and turbines with related components would enter Humboldt County via Humboldt Bay with anticipated port of entry at Fields Landing. No improvements to facilitate the offloading of turbine components from ships or barges have been proposed. There may be temporary off-ramps or other proposed modifications along Highway 101 to accommodate the oversized loads.
  • Proposed throughout the project area are temporary and permanent operations, maintenance, and staging facilities, two temporary cement batch plants, and up to 17 miles of new access roads. Existing access roads will be widened to accommodate oversized truck-trailer loads.
  • A permanent operations facility that includes related buildings and offices would be constructed on the west side of State Highway 101 at the Pepperwood/Avenue of the Giants exit.

Documents related to this project, such as public comments, FEIR and its contents, Humboldt Wind Project’s Appeal letter, etc,  can be found on the Humboldt County Government website.

Environmental Coalition Letter

Editor’s Note: The letter below was sent to Planning Director Ford and reflects the opinion of the major conservation organizations of the North Coast. Our organizations are not opposed to wind energy development but recognize that such development much include proven mitigation measures to reduce impacts to wildlife. The project, as conceived in the draft environmental impact report, lacks these measures and is therefore incomplete. Sent via email to jford@co.humboldt.ca.us on date shown below

September 11, 2019

Director John Ford
3015 H St
Eureka, CA 95501

Dear Director Ford,

On behalf of the Environmental Protection Information Center, Northcoast Environmental Center, Humboldt 350, California Native Plant Society, Redwood Region Audubon, and Redwood Chapter of the Sierra Club, please accept this letter on the proposed Terra-Gen wind project.

Our organizations urge rapid action at the local, national and international scale to address our climate crisis. In Humboldt, emissions associated with electricity use account for approximately 13% of total county carbon emissions, according to the county’s forthcoming Climate Action Plan. We encourage the development of clean energy projects but recognize that wind energy development can have detrimental impacts to the natural environment. In most circumstances, these impacts can be minimized and mitigated to acceptable levels through sound planning, siting, and imposition of the best available technology. Here, as acknowledged in your draft environmental impact report, given the largely undeveloped landscape and presence of at-risk species, the Humboldt Wind Project will have significant impacts to the environment. At present, these impacts have not been minimized or mitigated to an acceptable level. While some of our organizations support the “No Project” alternative, others could support a modified project. Should the project move forward we unanimously insist that the following conditions be met:

  • Move Turbines Off Bear River Ridge. The turbines on Bear River Ridge are the most impactful, both to the environment and to human communities. Bear River Ridge is home to Humboldt’s isolated and unique population of horned larks, sits entirely within the Cape Mendocino Grasslands Important Bird Area, and is home to the majority of the rare plant species in the project area. What’s more, the area is culturally significant to the Wiyot Tribe, who have voiced their opposition to placing turbines at this sensitive location.
  • Minimize and Mitigate Impacts to Ecosystems and Sensitive Species. It is imperative to complete all survey protocols before the EIR concludes to best understand the nature and magnitude of wildlife impacts. Regardless of design, the project is likely to result in the “taking” of sensitive species and will impact overall ecosystem function. That said, these impacts can be minimized through smart design. The best way to minimize impacts is to stop operation when sensitive species are present or during survey-defined high-risk periods. Operational curtailment is an industry-standard approach to mitigating wildlife impacts and is a part of other Terra-Gen projects. Where impacts can’t be minimized, such as the conversion of forests to brushfields, the project should compensate by fully mitigating these unavoidable impacts.
  • Provide Adaptive Management Throughout the Life of the Project. Wind energy is still in its infancy and we can expect significant technological advances throughout the life of the project (30 years). As technology advances, and our ability to reduce impacts and increase efficiency increases, the project should adopt emerging technologies and adapt to changing conditions. The project needs to include an adaptive management program that works to continually refine the project to reduce operational impacts. Adaptive management requires strong data. To that end, it is imperative to modify existing mortality monitoring to include canine-assisted searches or other emerging detection technology to ensure that adaptive management uses the best available data and that mortality data be collected throughout the life of the project. In providing adaptive management, the county needs to guarantee a neutral and transparent process for determining necessary project modifications.
  • Reduce Sediment Impacts to the Maximum Extent Practicable. The project will require significant ground disturbance, a known cause of sediment pollution and landslides. Our organizations are concerned about the impact of this sediment pollution. To the maximum extent practicable, all ground disturbance should occur outside the wet weather period, defined as Oct. 15 to May 15. Further efforts should also be made to reduce impacts from the Gen Tie line, such as by using existing power right of ways and other steps to reduce new ground disturbance and forest fragmentation.

Thank you for your attention to our concerns. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at (707) 822-7711 or tom@wildcalifornia.org.


Thomas Wheeler
Executive Director
Environmental Protection Information Center

Larry Glass
Executive Director
Northcoast Environmental Center

Steering Committee
350 Humboldt

Alicia Hamman
Interim Executive Director
Friends of the Eel River

Carol Pearson Ralph
North Coast Chapter
California Native Plant Society

Hal M. Genger
Redwood Region Audubon Society

Gregg Gold
North Group Redwood Chapter Sierra Club