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Lawsuits filed to stop repowering in California

The row between existing wind plant owners and new developers over repowering wind plants in California's Altamont Pass has moved further into deadlock. Mediation talks have failed and a court case seems highly likely. Lawsuits have been filed to halt the repowerings and could take at least a year to resolve. The dispute is over whether the installation of state-of-the-art wind turbines will harm the productivity of wind farms downwind of the new developments by stealing their wind. The owners and financial backers of downwind turbines say that they could lose more than a million dollars in income over the next five years if the county-approved plans to repower as much as 127 MW are allowed to proceed. They contend that wake effects were not analysed properly in the environmental impact report on repowering. "The county identified impacts but offered no mitigation," says Mike Zischke, an attorney for one of the plaintiffs. His client consists of the financial lenders to the owners of 847 turbines. Amongst the lenders are Toronto Dominion Bank, ABN AMRO Bank, NV, and John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co. Alameda County has approved permits for three major developers with plans to repower, Green Ridge Power LLC, Altamont Power LLC, and Venture Pacific Inc/SeaWest (Windpower Monthly, November and December 1998).

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