Proposed Wind Project Meets Strong Opposition in Boulevard

Residents say county planners will turn rural community into a "Renewable Energy Sacrifice Zone"

A proposed wind project is up against a squall of opposition in Boulevard where county planners are processing the first large-scale wind renewable energy project to be built on private land in San Diego.

The San Diego County Planning Commission denied Friday a strongly-worded appeal from the Boulevard Community Planning Group, which opposed construction of temporary meteorological towers to measure wind, ahead of the project.

Three temporary masts will be erected to gauge the potential of renewable energy wind turbine projects, according to a staff report recommending the approval of the “temporary MET facility,” in preparation for the Torrey Wind energy project.  

The Aug. 1 appeal from the Boulevard Planning Group says they object to the “weasel worded findings” of county staff to turn their rural community into a “renewable energy sacrifice zone.”

New York-based renewable energy company Terra-Gen, which has an office in San Diego as well, wants to build a 126-megawatt project on a 2,000-acre private ranch in northern Boulevard.

If approved, the project would erect 30 wind turbines, up to a maximum of 586-feet tall at the north end of Ribbonwood Road on a private property formerly known as Big Country Ranch.  

“It’s the height,” said Donna Tisdale, chair of the Boulevard Planning Group, when asked about the biggest objections from the community.

“These are taller (it’s like 586 feet) so it’s taller than the tallest building in downtown San Diego," Tisdale said. "In our rural community, it’s taller - almost a hundred feet taller - than the existing turbines that are on federal lands next door.”

The tallest building in downtown San Diego is One American Plaza at 500 feet, according to city staff.

Tisdale added the project would require millions of gallons of groundwater, a scarcity in Boulevard.

“Also the bigger the turbine, the more noise and vibrations are produced, and there are adverse health effects for people who are sensitive to that. It creates a ‘fight-or-flight instinct’ reaction and stress-related illnesses,” she said.

Tisdale said a draft study into the health impacts of the turbines has not yet been released by the county.

The project the county approved Friday only includes three temporary towers to stand up to 197-feet to measure “meteorological occurrences such as wind speed, wind direction, air pressure, rain, snow or sun exposure to determine whether it is feasible to develop a renewable energy wind turbine project,” according to the staff report. The merits of the actual wind farm will be evaluated separately at a different public meeting, the staff report said.

The county plans to release a Notice of Preparation of an Environmental Impact Report on Thursday for a 30-day public review.

The temporary towers will be built on a 600-acre property near Mountain Empire on county maintained land. It will include two sonic detection and ranging (SoDAR) units to measure wind velocity.

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