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Wind Energy Proposal Gets Mixed Reviews In Boulevard

Audio

Aired 1/27/10

A Portland, Oregon-based company wants to build a wind farm in Southeastern San Diego County. The first of several public hearings on the project will be held Wednesday evening in Jacumba. The proposal is one of three interconnected energy projects in the same area.

A Portland, Oregon-based company wants to build a wind farm in Southeastern San Diego County. The first of several public hearings on the project will be held Wednesday evening in Jacumba. The proposal is one of three interconnected energy projects in the same area.

Iberdrola Renewables has proposed building a wind energy project on 1,600 acres in southeastern San Diego County near Boulevardl.

Ed Clark with Iberdrola Renewables says the plan calls for at least 100, and possibly 133, wind turbines stretching up to 400 feet from base to blade-top.

"The very first turbines would be on this ridge we see right over here on this ridge right over here to the west," said Clark, pointing out the ridge tops in the McCain Valley where the turbines would be placed. "And go north on that ridge and further to the north and to the west there would be additional turbines and those also will have strings of turbines on them."

The turbines would be placed on federal, private, state and tribal lands in the McCain Valley.

The proposal also includes access roads and a 138-kV transmission line.

Clark says the project would generate enough power for 60,000 San Diego-area homes and provide 10 permanent jobs.

The wind project requires federal, state and county approval.

The California Public Utilities Commission has determined the Tule Wind Project is linked with two other projects in the area -- a new substation and a wind project in Baja.

"Well, it's not just one project, it's three projects," said Donna Tisdale of Boulevard. "It's Tule wind, SDG&E's Eco Substation and Sempra's Energia Sierra Juarez. They're all reliant on the Sunrise Powerlink, so we'll have all those projects running through our community and impacting just this whole region. And there's more coming."

Tisdale, a member of the Boulevard planning group, is worried the projects will forever change the community.

"Most of us live out here because we enjoy the quiet, peaceful, rural setting," said Tisdale. "And if it becomes a massive you know, whirling, blinking, buzzing, thumping industrial zone with powerlines and substations at every corner, I mean, the quality of life is gone."

But some of Tisdale's neighbors welcome the Tule Wind Project.

Larry Smith lives in Live Oak Springs -- within view of an existing wind farm in Campo.

"I will say it, I've said it before, that where my property's located, where the windmills are now, I don't really like the visual aspects of it myself," said Smith. "However, that being said, if this is going to make electricity cheaper, easier, more affordable for everybody up here everywhere around, I can live with it."

Some environmental activists question whether private companies should be allowed to use public land for energy projects.

"People don't often times don't realize what is being lost in natural lands until it's gone," said David Hogan of the San Diego County-based Protect Our Communities Foundation.

"You know it's easy to take for granted these beautiful wide open vistas of natural landscape in eastern San Diego County," Hogan continued. "And all of a sudden you drive out one day and they're covered with wind turbines or a new natural gas-fired power plant or some other ugly infrastructure that has totally destroyed the experience of these wild natural places. There are so few left, they're so precious."

Bob Walker lives and works in Boulevard.

"Yeah, the visual aspect is something that concerns me. But I've thought long and hard about this and you know, we're going to have to bite the bullet," said Walker. "In this economy we've got right now we need more jobs and we definitely need them out in Boulevard too. And if that will bring some new jobs, there's a lot of people out of work right now."

Ed Clark with Iberdrola Renewables says if the Tule wind project passes all regulatory hurdles construction could start late this year or in 2011.

Public hearings are scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday in Jacumba and Thursday in Boulevard to consider the Tule Wind proposal and two other energy projects.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Zeke'

Zeke | January 27, 2010 at 10:01 a.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

I listened to the program on wind this morning and felt that this would benefit some people that called in today.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory
A national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
Analysis: Economic Impacts of Wind Applications in Rural Communities
June 18, 2004 — January 31, 2005
http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/pdfs/wpa/econ_dev_casestudies_overview.pdf

This report analyzed 13 completed studies on the economic impact of wind farms in rural communities and then to compared them to one another. While the studies collected for this report represent several different types of economic impact studies all of them indicate that investment in wind power creates a positive impact on rural economies in the form of an increase in jobs, income, and taxes.

Due to the nature of this report and the broad cross-section of data available from each study summarized here, it is difficult to draw specific conclusions about the positive impact of wind installations on local and state economies. However, it is possible to draw several general conclusions:

• Wind installations create a large direct impact on the economies of rural communities, especially those with few supporting industries. For example, in communities in which farming is the only large industry, the installation of wind farms creates another industry that becomes a large percentage of the local tax base and contributes to local businesses.

• Small communities with few large industries see greater leakage of revenue into nearby towns that provide more services. These small communities therefore experience less indirect and induced impact of a wind installation than a larger community with the ability to provide a greater number of services.

Regarding Real Estate Values:

Visit The National Association Realtors website that showcases a number of reports and findings re. wind farms and their relation to the Real Estate market. The overall finding - not much change is being seen in housing values or in the equity of homes that reside next to wind farms – its more traditional factors i.e. schools, job location, location to family and friends etc. that remain the overriding factors that impact housing values.

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