Birds, Cuisinarts, Wind Turbines, and the Sierra Club

By Paul Gipe

The Sierra Club has long advocated the expanded use of renewable sources of energy, including wind energy. The Club judges each specific renewable energy project on its merits and may on occasion object to the development of wind power plants in specific locales.

The Sierra Club opposed a wind farm slated for California’s Tejon Pass during the late 1980s. The Club took this position out of concern for the endangered California Condor. While at the time all Condors were in captivity, biologists planned to release Condors back into the wilds near the Tejon Pass. The wind project was rejected by Los Angeles County.

During the campaign to stop the wind project, Bob Hattoy, a Sierra Club employee, in a fit of hyperbole, described the wind turbines as the “cuisinarts of the sky.” Publicists for the Tejon Ranch Co., one of the largest private landowners in California, circulated the quote widely. The quote was repeated by a spokesman for a racing pigeon association at the public hearing on the wind project. The latter version appeared in newspapers across the country and was quoted in Wind Energy Comes of Age. The Cato Institute and other anti-renewable groups often cite this source as justification for opposing all wind turbines and all wind projects.

The Sierra Club acknowledges the statement, regrets the unfortunate imagery used, and maintains its longstanding support of wind energy when developed and operated in an environmentally responsible manner.

–Paul Gipe, author of Wind Energy Comes of Age, and member of the Sierra Club’s Energy Technical Advisory Committee.