READER'S EDITORIAL: THE WIND DEBATE

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By Supervisor Dave Roberts

June 13, 2013 (San Diego)--On May 15th, the Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance that establishes a rigorous process to install wind turbines. By a 4-1 vote, Supervisors agreed to strict guidelines. Our action did not approve a single, specific project.

My vote to adopt the ordinance came after much careful consideration.

As Dr. Dan Silver of the Endangered Habitats League said during his testimony, "wind energy presents a conundrum."

On one hand, I am very supportive of renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gasses.  On the other, I am concerned about the significant, unmitigable impacts of large wind turbines.

I understand the concerns of residents in Boulevard. Sadly, Boulevard residents are going to be surrounded by large wind turbines on federal, Imperial County, and tribal lands.  The County Board of Supervisors has no control over the approval of those turbines.  In all likelihood, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors will consider only two or three applications for wind turbines near Boulevard.

And when those applications come forward, we will have a solid process in place to evaluate them.

The board's action this week approved an Environmental Impact Report that examines all renewable energy projects, including solar.  The purpose of an EIR is to document impacts of development and propose whether or not the impacts can be mitigated.  The document lists 24 unmitigable impacts, a daunting problem to overcome for any proponent of these projects.

The second action taken by the Board was approved by a 5-0 vote to implement a new ordinance that allows persons to put small wind turbines on their property for personal use by only requiring an Administrative Permit.

The third and final action taken by the Board was approved by a 4-1 vote concerned large wind turbines. These projects would be forced to go through a Major Use Permit process.

We did this because our ordinance was outdated and had to be updated to establish strict requirements.  This process requires notification of surrounding property owners and a public hearing before the Board of Supervisors.  The new Wind Ordinance included a map of wind resources to indicate where large turbines might be placed.  Locations within the County of San Diego are very limited.  Now all residents know exactly where wind turbines are permitted and where they are not. This ordinance also set strict standards for noise control which provide setbacks far greater than the requirements of the existing noise ordinance.

No new projects were approved by the Board.  However, our action did establish a strict review process which will limit the ability to build future industrial-size wind turbines.

Faulty turbines can cause electric fires. So during my public remarks, I also asked that future applicants provide special training and equipment to our fire protection services.

The prior approved Tule Wind Project includes 5 turbines on County of San Diego jurisdictional lands in Boulevard.  At this time, there are no other large wind turbine projects proposed on land within County jurisdiction in Boulevard.  By way of reminder, consideration of a new ordinance grew out of concern for the Tule Wind Project which was approved before I was elected to the Board. Residents complained that this project was not carefully vetted. Hence, county staff drafted an ordinance for Board consideration.

This was appropriate because the county has been operating with an outdated wind ordinance.  With the adoption of a map designating where the turbines may be built it is seen by some as a de facto restriction to limited areas.

My votes demonstrate my commitment to environmental sustainability while standing up for residents in the locally impacted communities.

The opinions in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org.

Comments

Horrifying to think that

Horrifying to think that an elected official with so much influence could make such a momentous decision--one that will ruin the lives of residents, destroy the land, kill thousands of endangered animals; and, in the end, do nothing to reduce global warming--all on the basis of such overwhelming ignorance.

to the author: please stop

to the author:

please stop feeding at the trough of bad science regarding greenhouse gasses.  the problem does not exist.  wind turbines do more harm than good.  they use energy to be built, moved constructed, the area graded etc.  they also require a backfeed to be able to generate.

the east county doesn't need them, nor want them.  put them up around mission beach and la jolla to catch sea breezes first .. oh thats right, like the hypocrite kennedys, the citizens and governement of the city wouldn't allow it.  lets destroy the rural folks.

its a sad day when an elected offical screws the voters.  normal for california

The Noblest Motive is The Public Good

That's the motto of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.    So what's so good for the public about large-scale wind energy and the Wind Ordinance when the LIVES of people and wildlife are at risk?   But, who cares?

There should be no "conundrum".   The only "Green" with wind energy is $$$.   Just look at Ocotillo.   NO ENERGY is presently being produced.   Thank God nobody was killed when the wind turbine blade (173 ft. long and 5,000 lbs.) fell on public lands!   The Kumeyaay wind farm blades exploded.   What other failures will happen in the future that WILL kill somebody?   But, who cares?

Dr. Dan Silva of the EHL should be concerned about killing birds by fragmenting areas they use with killing machines (wind turbines).   Birds I observe don't just fly above ridgetops or in drainage areas, and some even fly at niight, like owls, along with bats..   The pair of Golden Eagles we photographed in the McCain Valley Recreation (formerly RESOURCE CONSERVATION) Area have their own "Wind Resources Map".   By golly, it's has some of the same areas as the County's Map - north of Hwy. 8 - where Tule wind is also located.  Imagine that!   Supervisor Roberts stated, "Locations (for wind turbines) within the County of San Diego are limited."   So are Golden Eagles..   But, who cares?

The McCain Valley Recreation Area has been sacrificed, along with Boulevard.  It has two campgrounds, two scenic overlooks, hiking trails . . .    Who seeks out nature in a wind farm?   Birds are killed, views obstructed with industrial structures, and an electrical fire threat is ever present in an exdtreme fire hazard area.endangering recreational enthusiasts like us.  But, who cares?

Future projects WILL overcome the 24 SIGNIFICANT and UNMITIGABLE impacts by doing what Tule Wind just did.   Waivers, exemptions, exceptions, Zoning changes, Community Plan changes, bird KILL permits, . . .    The impacts will still be SIGNIFICANT., but now will they will be "legal".   But, who cares?

If the Noblest Motive is the Public Good, why don't we just use renewable energy alternatives such as rooftop solar and small wind that don't have significant and unmitigable impacts?

But, who cares?   I know Dianne Jabob does!    :)

 

 

Your vote Mr. Roberts demonstrates that you are a hypocrite

The "rigorous process" that you set up to install wind turbines reduced the distance that the 500 feet tall turbines had to be from homes to eight times less than it was before your vote. This is despite the fire hazards and complaints of health problems such as chronic headaches to cancer that residents close to industrial wind turbines have complained about. No you didn't vote in favor of more than one industrial commercial project sprawling over hundreds of acres of pristine valleys, as you mention. You voted for a far more dangerous set of standards and rubber stamped the precedent for future projects.

You point out that the vote was 4 to 1 in favor. You neglect to mention that the only repesentative of the immediately affected residents is the one that voted against your so called "rigorous process." The decision makers  that don't live there voted for it. Well do you think it is appropriate if three people and I vote to put our trash in your living room? Doesn't the majority make it right, as you imply? No that would be wrong. What you did is a violation of due process by taking away the rights of the people that live in the area by imposing a decision made by outsiders.

You state that the new Wind Ordinance included a map of wind resources to a very limited area so people will know. This you fail to mention is an an area that has always been designated rural and people live, visit and enjoy nature there, until your recent vote. This is the mountainous gateway in and out of San Diego that you would litter with turbines the size of 50 story skyscrapers, with blade spans the size of football fields and tangled together with flashing red lights all night and killing hawks 24 hours per day.

You also fail to point out that the industrial turbine industy is paid for by the taxpayers via subsidies and also paid by higher bills for anyone that uses electric. There are no free market turbine electric companies because no one would voluntarily pay for such an inefficient ugly business. Yet you have made the process so much easier for these companies that now perhaps they will donate to your next campaign?

Enlightened communities in Hawaii to Cape Cod have voted to put a moritorium on such industrial developments and even to dismantle some such prior bad mistakes at a cost of $4 million taxpayer dollars per turbine structure. That will happen here too. There are so many better alternatives if you would simply take the time to review them on the internet.