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Tule Wind Project Up For Key Vote in San Diego

Wind power is one way planners hope to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions in San Diego. County Supervisors will cast a critical vote today on the controversial Tule Wind Power Project about 50 miles east of El Cajon, near Boulevard.

A major wind turbine project in San Diego County faces a crucial vote before the San Diego Board of Supervisors today.

The federal government has already approved 62 wind turbines on Bureau of Land Management land in McCain Valley, high on the mountains between San Diego and the desert. But to get the power from the Tule wind turbines, transmission lines would have to go across land owned by San Diego County.

Opponents of the project, like Miriam Raftery, editor of East County Magazine, say wind turbines pose a fire risk and destroy unique wilderness areas.

“If you look at what you consider good wind resources,“ Raftery said, “it includes areas north of I-8 in Boulevard, it includes places like Santa Isabel, a lot of the areas we think of as special, and when these things are 500 feet tall and there’s hundreds of them, you’re going to be able to see them from very, very far away. “

Harley McDonald of Iberdrola Renewables said the company has been working on the project for seven years. If approved, it would generate enough power for about 60,000 homes.

“The fact is, that there is a very strong wind resource,“ McDonald said, “and that’s about the only place in the county that you could have a utility scale wind project.”

The company estimates the project would also reduce greenhouse gases by about 230,000 tons.

San Diego County's Planning Commission recommended against putting up five extra wind turbines on county land, and voted to underground the transmission lines.

However, that could raise problems with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which, along with the state, also has to approve the project.

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