analyst, Tehachapi, California
One of the tragedies of Kenetech's demise is the end of its exemplary record on environmental issues in North America. This is a great loss to the American industry. Kenetech served as a model of sensitive wind development and it is increasingly clear that Kenetech's commitment to solving the bird problem in the Altamont Pass will never be matched by any other California company.
While Kenetech's financial failure certainly gives the wind industry in the United States a black eye, so too does unsightly wind development by several of California's remaining operators. The excesses found in California -- the gullies gouged into hillsides, the non-operating turbines, the oil pouring down towers, the glaring road cuts in erodable soils, the piles of junk, the jumble of machines scattered willy-nilly across the landscape -- will all come back to haunt the American industry in the years to come.
Kenetech's collapse should serve as a wake-up call to the American wind industry that it is time to reflect on where we are today and where we want to be in the decades to come. California-style wind development will not be accepted on a large scale if it entails the aesthetic costs seen in the Altamont, Tehachapi, and San Gorgonio passes. Now is the time for the American wind industry not only to clean up the economic debris left by Kenetech's arrogance and greed, but also to clean up the environmental mess left in California by a decade of haphazard wind energy development.