Learn more about the Fountain Wind Project here! Below are answers to some of the most-asked questions about wind energy and the Fountain Wind Project.
The Fountain Wind Project is a proposed 205 MW wind project in northeastern Shasta County. The project will be located on privately owned timberlands near Highway 299, approximately 35 miles northeast of Redding and 6 miles west of Burney, and is anticipated to be operational by the end of 2026. ConnectGen is currently considering 48 turbine locations for the project, but the final number of turbine locations will depend on the size of the turbine chosen for the project.
The Project is located in northeastern Shasta County, California approximately 6 miles west of Burney and one mile west of the existing Hatchet Ridge Wind Farm. To download a map of the project area please visit www.fountainwind.com/project-location.
The Fountain Wind Project will be a total capital investment of over $300 million in Shasta County, which will result in a significant increase in the County’s taxable property base. The project will benefit the County by generating more than $50 million in new tax revenues, while also creating jobs and increasing demand for local businesses.
During construction, the Fountain Wind Project will contribute more than $3.5 million in sales taxes to Shasta County. During operations, the project will provide a steady stream of property tax revenues to the County, averaging $1.67 million per year over the expected 30-year project life, totaling more than $50 million over the life of the project.
During construction, the Fountain Wind Project will support approximately 200 construction jobs. These construction workers will drive local economic development through increased demand for supply chain businesses, hospitality services, and other local businesses. Once operational, the project will generate up to 10 permanent jobs, which provide well-paying opportunities for young people to remain living and working in Northern California.
In addition, Fountain Wind has committed to contributing $2,800,000 in funding to benefit the residents of Shasta County, including the communities of Round Mountain, Montgomery Creek, and Burney. This funding will go towards workforce development, enhanced public safety, fire safety and wildfire protection. These areas of focus were identified based on direct feedback from members of the community.
The Fountain Wind Project is currently in the permitting phase of project development, and in January of 2023 the project submitted an application to the California Energy Commission (“CEC”) under the newly established Opt-In Certification Program. The CEC deemed the project’s application complete on October 30, 2023, which formally began a 270-day review process during which time the CEC will review the application, prepare a staff assessment that includes an environmental impact report, and give a recommendation on whether to approve or deny the project.
Yes. Assembly Bill 205, passed into law in 2022, allows certain eligible non-fossil-fuel power plants, energy storage, and manufacturing and assembly facilities to optionally seek certification by the CEC. The CEC serves as the lead agency to review opt-in projects under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Under this legislation, the CEC is required to prepare an environmental impact report (EIR) and make its decision at a public business meeting on the application within 270 days of receiving a complete application. The law requires tribal consultation and the opportunity for public comment throughout the process. With some exceptions, the CEC’s approval is in lieu of any permit, certificate, or similar document required by any state, local, or regional agency, or federal agency to the extent permitted by federal law.
Yes. Members of the public can submit a comment to the CEC at any time by going to the Project’s page on the CEC website and clicking on “Submit e-Comment”; https://www.energy.ca.gov/powerplant/wind/fountain-wind-project
Based on feedback received as part of Shasta County’s CEQA process, conducted from early 2019 to late 2021, ConnectGen reduced the number of proposed turbines from the initially proposed 72 to the 48 that are proposed as part of the CEC process. The turbines that were removed include all 7 turbines north of HWY 299, the 5 turbines closest to Moose Camp, and 6 of the westernmost turbines that were the most visible from Round Mountain and Montgomery Creek.
ConnectGen has met with dozens of local stakeholders within Shasta County, including those communities directly adjacent to the project, to provide accurate information and better inform the broader community. Starting in November of 2019, ConnectGen started hosting regular Project office hours in Round Mountain at the Round Mountain Community Center. ConnectGen was able to hold seven meetings prior to the implementation of Covid-19-related meeting restrictions. Since then, ConnectGen has continued to meet with project stakeholders via phone and video conference, including hosting a virtual Local Vendor Faire in July of 2020, a video of which can be found here. Based on stakeholder feedback, ConnectGen donated a total of $12,000 to six separate organizations in Shasta County, including One Safe Place, KKRN Radio, Burney Food Co-Op, Montgomery Creek School, and the Tri-County Community Network. ConnectGen is committed to staying active in the community and is working to provide funding of approximately $2.8MM for the benefit of the communities of Round Mountain, Montgomery Creek, Burney, and all of Shasta County. ConnectGen is committed to being an active community member and good neighbor for the remainder of the development and construction processes and throughout the operational life of the project.
Yes. The Project will provide up to 510 acres of defensible space via the network of enhanced access roads and up to 687 acres of shaded fuel breaks that will be implemented along side the access routes. In addition to the defensible space and shaded fuel breaks, the project will add addition fire suppression assets to the area by installing a series of 5,000-gallon water tanks which will be accessed and utilized for rotor-wing aerial fire fighting suppression. The project has been reviewed by firefighting experts as well as former members of CAL FIRE, and they have concluded that the project will be a net benefit to fire protection and wildfire safety in and around the project. Furthermore, in the Shasta County Planning Commission Staff Report, CAL FIRE stated “the presence of turbines would not result in the creation of a no-fly zone” and aerial fire suppression will remain viable in and around the project area.
Yes. As is required by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the project has undergone all the necessary 3rd party interconnection studies to ensure that interconnection to the electrical grid will not result in any adverse impacts. The project has completed all necessary studies and signed a Large Generator Interconnection agreement (LGIA) with PG&E in late 2017.
As the owner of the existing Pit #1 to Cottonwood transmission line, PG&E is the transmission service provider for the project. PG&E is required by CAISO to study the immediate and long-term effects of putting additional generation on the grid from projects that are being developed by independent power producers, like ConnectGen. Once PG&E has completed its interconnection studies and the studies have been verified by the CAISO, PG&E works with independent power producers to sign an LGIA.
The project will be designed and constructed to have an expected minimum useful life of 30 years.
ConnectGen is responsible for the removal of the project at the end of the project’s life. At year 15 of project operations, ConnectGen will put a financial security in place to ensure that the landowner and community will bear no responsibility for removal or restoration of the project. The amount of financial assurance will be determined by a third-party engineer and will be re-estimated and adjusted every five years. This financial assurance will remain in place for the remaining life of the project.
Yes, the power from the project will flow to the Cottonwood 230 kV substation, located in the south-central part of Shasta County. From the Cottonwood substation, the electricity will connect to the regional and local electrical grid. The added generation capacity from the Fountain Wind Project will help Shasta County and the region guard against PG&E blackouts like the one experienced in August of 2020.
ConnectGen is considering a number of potential turbine models for the Fountain Wind Project and will ultimately select the best technology that is suitable for the project area. At this point in the project’s development, it is too soon to know which specific turbine model will be used; however, ConnectGen is working with top tier turbine manufacturers (Vestas, GE, Nordex Acciona, and Siemens Gamesa) to determine which options would be appropriate for the project site. ConnectGen is considering turbines up to 610 feet tall with a maximum nameplate capacity of 7.2 MW each.
The wind industry is trending towards larger, more efficient turbines, which means that wind projects require fewer turbines and less ground disturbance to produce more energy.
U.S.-based wind turbine manufacturing has continued to grow, and most of the components of wind turbines installed in the U.S. are manufactured here.1 Today, more than 500 U.S. factories across 41 states build wind-related parts, creating economies of scale and lowering transportation costs.2 The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) dedicates at least $390 billion over 10 years to accelerate investments in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which has already spurred the expansion of wind turbine supply chains to manufacture components on US soil. Since the passage of the IRA, the development or expansion of 6 onshore wind turbine component manufacturing facilities have been announced.3 ConnectGen is working with top tier turbine manufacturers (Vestas, GE, Nordex Acciona, and Siemens Gamesa) to determine which turbine model is appropriate for the project site. ConnectGen is committed to purchasing turbines from one of these major providers, all of which have some form of manufacturing facility located in the U.S.
No. The project is designed to use existing stream crossings to the maximum extent feasible, and any alterations to the existing stream crossings or creation of new stream crossings will be reviewed and approved by CDFW via a separate permitting process. The project will employ a host of best management practices such as material handling procedures, pre-construction inspection, and environmental monitoring that directly and indirectly protect aquatic resources.
No, wind turbines do not require water to produce electricity or cool power generating equipment, so the project will not have a negative impact on local water supplies.4 Most of the water needed for the project will be related to construction-related dust suppression control. During construction it is anticipated that water will be purchased from a nearby water control district, such as the Burney Water District. Furthermore, the turbine foundations will only be approximately 10 to 12 feet deep and will not impact the local water tables.
No, there are no rare earth materials contained within the turbines being considered for the project.
The final number of turbines will depend on the turbine model that ConnectGen selects for the project, which has not yet been determined. If ConnectGen uses a smaller turbine model, the project could include up to 48 turbines. Conversely, if ConnectGen were to select a larger turbine model, the project could include as few as 28 turbines.
Although the project area encompasses approximately 16,500 acres of leased land, the actual project infrastructure will encompass a much smaller area. Specifically, the total area required to construct the project would be approximately 1,058, with approximately 548 acres of temporary disturbance and 510 acres of permanently disturbed land to host the facility infrastructure and to accommodate operations and maintenance activities. After construction, the temporary disturbance areas will be restored and replanted in accordance with landowner and CAL FIRE requirements.
Yes. Wind energy is a low-cost resource that is competitive with conventional energy sources. The cost of wind energy has declined by 69% over the last decade,5 and with improved technology and U.S.-based manufacturing, wind energy is cost competitive with other energy sources and the cheapest source of new electricity in many parts of the country.6
For nearly a century, the federal government has supported energy innovation through various forms of tax incentives and other financial tools. For many industries including energy, tax policy is an important driver that prompts private investment, creates new jobs, and benefits the U.S. economy. For example, fossil fuels in their start-up got five times more in government incentives than renewable energy, and nuclear received ten times as much.7
For wind energy, the primary federal incentive is the Production Tax Credit (PTC), passed in 1992 with bipartisan support and recently extended through 2024.8 Just as tax treatment for traditional energy sources has enabled growth and development, the PTC has helped wind developers access the private capital needed to boost America’s renewable energy generation and provide host communities billions in local and state taxes.
Yes. A typical wind energy project repays its carbon footprint in six months or less, providing decades of zero emissions energy that displaces the fossil fuel energy that was used to manufacture the turbines and construct the wind project.9 As wind turbine technology continues to improve with longer lifetimes and larger nameplate capacities, the length of the energy payback period will continue to decrease. The Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reviewed all published research and concluded that wind energy’s carbon footprint is lower than nuclear and most other renewable energy resources.10
Wind energy projects, like all forms of development, can result in interactions with the natural environment. Wildlife and other resources were an important consideration informing the development of the project. ConnectGen completed a comprehensive siting and pre-construction study of the project area to identify potential impacts to wildlife, which included application of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines and California Energy Commission’s Guidelines for Reducing Impacts to Birds and Bats from Wind Energy Development. Through this resource assessment effort and agency coordination, a host of avian, bat, amphibian, and plant field studies were performed over multiple years to help determine the presence of sensitive resources and subsequently assess the potential impacts from project. ConnectGen is committed to a robust set of mitigation measures that when implemented will further avoid, minimize, and mitigate potential impacts to wildlife. These include a commitment to additional pre-construction surveys, seasonal construction, long-term monitoring, and compensatory mitigation actions.
The operation of wind turbines can result in bird mortality which is why projects like Fountain perform multi-year studies to understand the avian use at the site. This information is used to inform whether significant impacts to a species’ population may occur, and to help make siting and design decisions that may reduce avian interactions. Although avian mortality at wind facilities is well documented, extensive research on this phenomenon suggests properly sited wind projects do not adversely affect bird populations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture noted that wind turbines cause less than 0.01 percent of all human-related bird deaths. According to the National Audubon Society, aside from habitat loss, the greatest cause of bird deaths are cats and tall buildings.11
No. The Fountain Wind Project is the only wind project that ConnectGen is considering in Shasta County and there are no additional phases planned.
Millions of people in the U.S. live and work near more than 70,000 operating wind turbines without any health or safety effects.12 According to a 2018 study by NREL, there are more than 1.3 million homes located within five miles of a utility-scale wind turbine. The study also found that 92 percent of survey respondents living within five miles of a wind turbine reported positive or neutral experiences and that 90 percent of survey respondents would prefer to live near a wind farm over any type of centralized power plant, whether coal, natural gas or nuclear.13
Numerous peer-reviewed, third-party studies have shown that wind turbines do not have adverse, direct impacts on human health. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology published a study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine titled, “Wind Turbines and Health: A Critical Review of the Scientific Literature.” A panel of experts with professional experience and training in occupational and environmental medicine, acoustics, epidemiology, otolaryngology, psychology, and public health was commissioned to “assess the peer-reviewed literature regarding potential health effects among people living in the vicinity of wind turbines.” Upon review, they concluded, “No clear or consistent association is seen between noise from wind turbines and any reported disease or other indicator of harm to human health.”14
Further, Health Canada, in partnership with Statistics Canada, conducted a major study of over one thousand homes and reached the same conclusion, stating, “No evidence was found to support a link between exposure to wind turbine noise and any of the self-reported illnesses.”15
Wind projects do not burn fossil fuel to generate electricity, and as a result, do not emit any air pollutants such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, or particulate matter. Wind helps avoid 334 million metric tons of CO2 emissions annually, which is the equivalent to removing 73 million cars from the road.16 It is estimated that by reducing harmful emissions that contribute to chronic illness and premature death, wind projects reduce public health costs by billions of dollars a year.17
No. Many studies have shown that wind projects do not have long-term negative impacts on the value of neighboring properties. Wind projects benefit all local property owners by driving economic investment and tax revenue. These funds improve roads, schools, and community services, while also keeping local taxes low – all of which factor into property values. According to the Energy Policy Institute, 10 major studies spanning three countries and 1.3 million property transactions over 18 years have found that wind projects do not decrease property values:
Today’s wind turbines take advantage of over 30 years of design, engineering, manufacturing and operating experience to minimize sound from operations. Further, the Fountain Wind Project will be designed to comply with local and state laws to limit sound impacts. ConnectGen has designed the Fountain Wind Project within Shasta County’s regulations, which will minimize additional sound impacts on nearby residences.
Shasta County’s noise regulations mandate that any noise associated with the project shall not exceed 55 dBA during daytime hours (7 a.m. to 10 p.m.) and 50 dBA during nighttime hours (10 p.m. to 7 a.m.) as measured at the nearest existing noise sensitive receptors For comparison, a 55 dBA sound level is equivalent to a household refrigerator.21
As part of the Shasta County Planning Division’s preparation of the Environmental Impact Report, an Acoustical Assessment has been performed on the Fountain Wind Project and has determined that the project as currently proposed will comply with Shasta County’s noise regulations.
On September 10, 2018, then Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 100 (SB 100).22 The law requires all retail electricity to be 100% carbon-free by 2045, and therefore impacts the procurement of energy for all energy service providers in the state of California. SB 100 also requires that at least 60% of electricity be generated for CA by 2030 from eligible renewable energy resources (solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, small hydro, renewable methane, ocean wave or thermal, or fuel cells using renewable fuels) and advances the previous standard to 50% by 2025.
SCT was formed to purchase and manage approximately 170,000 acres of private forestland in Shasta, Trinity, and Siskiyou Counties in early 2018. SCT’s management objectives seek to deliver long-term sustainable forestry outcomes, including the production of certified timber for local processing markets and the generation of carbon credits that contribute to California’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets through natural climate solutions. The SCT estate is managed by FWS Forestry Services from its Redding offices.
ConnectGen has identified Shasta County for wind energy development because of its proximity to the existing transmission system that has sufficient capacity, a strong wind resource, and favorable site suitability with limited design constraints.
ConnectGen develops, builds and operates utility-scale renewable energy and energy storage projects across the United States. With 278 MW of operating projects and a portfolio of over 20,000 MW of wind, solar, and storage projects under development across the United States, ConnectGen’s experienced team has a track record of successfully identifying, developing, and building renewable energy projects. Our project successes are built on a foundation of rigorous screening and site selection, collaborative engagement with landowners and host communities, and disciplined execution through development, construction, and operations.
The ConnectGen team brings decades of experience from industry-leading companies, including EDP Renewables, E.ON, Invenergy, Clean Line Energy Partners, First Wind, NextEra, RES and Calpine. Collectively over their careers, the ConnectGen team has successfully developed, commercialized, financed, constructed and operated more than 11 gigawatts of renewable energy projects across the U.S. and Canada. See below for a summary of the team’s track record of project execution.