At a conference in Tarifa concerning its new wind farm, Kenetech promised employment to locals as well as implementation of environmental measures regarding both avian life and reforestation.

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Kenetech wind power of the United States is promising employment opportunities and sophisticated environmental technology for its new wind farm in southern Spain in a bid to win popular support for the scheme. The friendly overtures to the local population in Tarifa were made at a press conference held there on December 12. The company plans to erect a 30 MW farm at Tarifa, a project which has been under a cloud since it was announced earlier this year, mainly because of its possible impact on local and migrating birds.

Kenetech's Bud Grebey says the main aim of the press conference was to acquaint the population of Tarifa with his company's plans in the short and medium term. The Kenetech team present included several of the company's executives and consultants. Assembled reporters were given details of the company's construction schedule, its plans to employ some 150 locals and how the company planned to mitigate the possible impact of the wind farm on resident and migratory birds.

The project, called kW Tarifa, has been under a great deal of scrutiny, especially over the bird issue. Some 50 odd raptors have been found dead among the around 270 existing wind turbines at Tarifa. It is also no secret that private and government institutions have been angered by the exploitation of Spain's huge wind resource by foreign companies and specifically by Kenetech's designs on Tarifa, considered one of the best locations in Europe for wind farms.

The conference was seen as an attempt to overcome some of the hostility in the area with promises of employment and improved environmental measures which have still to be matched by domestic firms. Kenetech's Dick Curry of the company's avian task force research unit also said the firm would be carrying out new studies on bird migration, employing radar to detect incoming birds in time to shut down the turbines and implementing reforestation programmes to make up for the removal of scrub to make way for the turbines.

Curry, who was accompanied by two ornithological consultants at the press conference, added that at least four of the planned turbines would be removed because they were considered most likely to affect birds. He also said that the data collected on any impact on avian life would be shared with bird organisations and other wind plant operators at Tarifa. "We will be co-operating fully with local bird experts," he said.

The new Kenetech wind farm is expected to be ready to connect to the grid by June and will employ 150 workers during construction. Permanent staff, mostly Spanish technicians, will number 15 once the plant comes on line. Some are being trained by Kenetech in California.

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