The California Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) has declared the area surrounding the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility, located in Imperial Valley, Calif., as a sacred Native American site and is seeking assistance on enforcement options from the office of the California Attorney General.
When fully completed, Pattern Energy's 265 MW Ocotillo project will feature 112 Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbines operating on approximately a 10,000-acre site on lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The wind farm is emblematic of the Obama administration's push to site renewable energy projects on public lands located in the western U.S.
The NAHC says the area surrounding the wind farm is a sacred Native American site and, as such, should be afforded protections under section 5097.9 of the California Public Resources Code.
Among other claims, the NAHC determined that BLM failed to engage in federally required meaningful consultation with affected tribes and that BLM's development partner Pattern Energy failed to mitigate significant negative impacts on documented historic Native American cultural resources.
For its part, Pattern says the development of the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility was entirely consistent with the objectives and mission of the California NAHC.
In a company statement, Pattern says it carefully investigated the Ocotillo site before any construction occurred and, working through the BLM, engaged in detailed consultation with interested Native American tribes. The project, which was designed to avoid direct impacts to all of the identified Native American cultural resources in the project area, has now effectively completed construction, Pattern notes.