Article

'Wind farm' project progressing quietly

A "wind farm" that would take advantage of the gusts that have been blowing through the Central Coast at 30 to 50 mph is moving right along despite a lawsuit filed against the county's approval of the project. Construction won't begin for at least a year, but in the meantime officials of the developer say they are working to meet all the requirements imposed by the county with the intention of protecting the environment surrounding the "clean energy" project.

A "wind farm" that would take advantage of the gusts that have been blowing through the Central Coast at 30 to 50 mph is moving right along despite a lawsuit filed against the county's approval of the project.

Construction won't begin for at least a year, but in the meantime officials of the developer say they are working to meet all the requirements imposed by the county with the intention of protecting the environment surrounding the "clean energy" project.

The project by Pacific Renewable Energy Generation LLC, a subsidiary of Acciona Wind Energy USA, proposes to build 65 wind-driven turbines that could generate up to 97.5 megawatts, enough to power more than 40,000 households.

The county Board of Supervisors has approved its construction on a ridge southwest of Lompoc.

Once operating, it would also provide approximately $1 million annually to Santa Barbara County in tax revenues and give additional funds to the owners of the nearly 3,000 acres of leased agricultural land on which it would be built.

The lawsuit filed by George and Cheryl Bedford, whose property is bordered on three sides by potential sites for the nearly 400-foot-tall wind turbines, is directed at the board's decision, so the project is free... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A "wind farm" that would take advantage of the gusts that have been blowing through the Central Coast at 30 to 50 mph is moving right along despite a lawsuit filed against the county's approval of the project.

Construction won't begin for at least a year, but in the meantime officials of the developer say they are working to meet all the requirements imposed by the county with the intention of protecting the environment surrounding the "clean energy" project.

The project by Pacific Renewable Energy Generation LLC, a subsidiary of Acciona Wind Energy USA, proposes to build 65 wind-driven turbines that could generate up to 97.5 megawatts, enough to power more than 40,000 households.

The county Board of Supervisors has approved its construction on a ridge southwest of Lompoc.

Once operating, it would also provide approximately $1 million annually to Santa Barbara County in tax revenues and give additional funds to the owners of the nearly 3,000 acres of leased agricultural land on which it would be built.

The lawsuit filed by George and Cheryl Bedford, whose property is bordered on three sides by potential sites for the nearly 400-foot-tall wind turbines, is directed at the board's decision, so the project is free to move forward.

However, the turbines and support structures cannot be placed until all of the protective measures listed in the conditional use permit have been sufficiently met, said Doug Anthony, deputy director of the county's energy division.

"We looking at archaeology issues, initiating some intensive field work," said David Hastings, Acciona's vice president of western regional development. "We're also working on engineering to get the site layout for the roads and the turbines, to optimize the project."

In addition, Acciona needs to make progress on the right-of-way for the transmission line, which will connect the project to a power line near PG&E's substation at the southwest corner of Lompoc.

"We hope, within a year, we should be getting to the point of ramping up for construction," Hastings said.

Once the requirements are met according to the Planning and Development Department director's standards, a land use permit will be filed and construction may begin, Anthony said.

The list of required mitigation measures is available online at www.countyofsb.org/energy/projects/LompWindEnergy.asp.

The Bedfords appealed the county Planning Commission's approval of the wind farm to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, who also felt the benefits outweighed the potential impacts - such as bird and bat deaths and introduction of the turbines into the public view.

The lawsuit claims that the approval was inconsistent with the county's general plan and zoning regulations and that the environmental study was inadequate, Anthony said.

"We would like to find a compromise (with the Bedfords) that gives them peace of mind and keeps our project viable," Hastings said.

The California Department of Fish and Game also filed an appeal, but it was rescinded when Acciona agreed to acquire a conservation easement of at most 164 acres and give a one-time endowment of $50,000 to Fish and Game to care for the protected property.

If an easement is not acquired, then Acciona will give $450,000 in trust to the California Wildlife Foundation for the protection of bird and bat habitat, according to the agreement.


Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id...

APR 19 2009
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