Residents of Whitewater, Painted Hills and some residents of Desert Hot Springs gathered at the Carl May Center to speak out Thursday night against Dillon Wind’s proposal to build more windmills in three locations in and near the city’s sphere of influence.
“My understanding is while we have some road projects, it will affect 58 towers down there, and it’s an area that’s located here in Desert Hot Springs,” said Council Member Hank Hohenstein, who opened the discussion. “And I understand I hear about a Snow Creek area project. We want to assist them with that, hoping that they will assist us in return.” After introducing the meeting, he then passed the microphone over to Joyce Manley, of the Painted Hills area, who has been actively trying to stop projects since 2001.
“One of the things I suggest everybody should do is to write letters,” Ms. Manley said while having flyers passed out explaining whom to address them to. “It is best to send them to County Supervisor to Marion Ashley, who has followed in his predecessor’s shoes by basically approving all of those projects. The only way to get a change of thought is by volumes of letters going to him.”
Despite claims from the Environmental League for Windmill Truth that windmills are bad for the air quality and health of West Valley residents and will kill thousands of birds, Dillon Wind insists, according to their brochures, that their project will improve air quality and use no fossil fuels. Also, they claim that they will benefit the city of Palm Springs with tax revenue for their public safety and provide new jobs, and increase energy production, thus providing consumer cost savings. Still, residents of the western Coachella Valley are not convinced.
Patti Patane, a resident of the Painted Hills area and owner of ten acres of land, is one who prefers to use solar energy at her home. “You have ruined the most beautiful area,” she says to representatives of Dillon Wind. “Duke Energy has put acres of solar panels in the Las Vegas and Victor Valley areas. I would not mind looking at solar panels outside. My power bill is -$50 each month.”
Judy Shea, one who lives far from the proposed windmill sites, stated that citizens were successful when it came to stopping power plants from being built. “We’ve stopped a big one years ago,” she said. “It was cute to have a few windmills here and there. We don’t need larger windmills and we don’t get any benefit from them at all. They cause nothing but pollution.
Concerns against Dillon Wind are not limited to just environmental infractions, but some are just outright angry over the high rates that West Valley residents pay, while East Valley residents, in the Imperial Irrigation District utility district, pay half the rate. “When it comes to financial impact, people look up,” says Charles Amendola, former City Commissioner for Desert Hot Springs. “We are being punished by having the highest rates in the United States. If we have to put up with the new windmills, then we want financial compensations from the companies or we want some kind of rate approval comparable to those of the Imperial Irrigation District.” He also suggested that tax breaks should be fair for residents who have to put up with the windmills if built.
Mike Shoberg, of Stantec Consulting, defended Dillon Wind and their efforts, insisting that the windmills will only stand at 327 feet, from the base to the tip of the highest blade, and will not be built above ground level. “I believe that the proposed windmills are all of uniform size,” he said, insisting that the large windmills will not be seen as far away as Indio like many residents believe. “And our windmills are safely lubricated,” he commented in regards to claims of oil burning. He declined to comment on his own opinions of Dillon Wind’s projects, but mentioned that building will proceed in the early part of next year.
Still, residents and landowners will not budge without a fight. Many will take legal action if necessary. Nicholas Hermsen, an attorney representing Daniel and Julie Chen, owners of over 300 acres neighboring the proposed construction site, commented, “We are just concerned that the wind turbines will destroy development in the surrounding areas and their economic development.”
Another meeting is scheduled for Thursday, December 14th at 5:30 p.m. to continue discussing the matter of the windmills. For location and meeting information, contact Joyce Manley at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Leslie Mariah Andrews, Desert Hot Springs
Desert Local News
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