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Wind project in Palm Springs area gains momentum

A wind project that would include about 45 towering turbines on three parcels in and near Palm Springs is one step closer to approval.

The Palm Springs Planning Commission approved the portion of the project within the city in a 4-1 vote Wednesday.

The Dillon Wind Project would add about five 327-foot turbines and associated facilities on roughly 200 acres about 6,000 feet west of Indian Avenue, east of Highway 62, south of Dillon Road and north of Interstate 10.

The developer, PPM Energy, of Oregon, proposes the Dillon Wind Project’s other turbines for two parcels in unincorporated county land north of Palm Springs and west of Desert Hot Springs.

The Riverside County Planning Commission voted last week to approve the project for one of those sites and to recommend that the county Board of Supervisors approve the turbines on the other tract.

While county public hearings on those parcels drew several residents protesting the windmills’ height and noise, little opposition was heard Wednesday.

“When is it going to reflect on our rates in Palm Springs?” asked the Palm Springs commission’s vice chairman, Larry Hochanadel, who voted no on the project. “We are among the highest-paying customers. We have the height pollution, and we get nothing out of it.”

PPM Energy estimates the entire 45-megawatt project will supply energy to roughly 13,500 homes on the power grid even with the wind blowing only some of the time, said Andy Linehan, PPM Energy’s wind permitting director.

Opponents of the project have disputed those figures.

While the renewable energy will not directly lower energy costs in Palm Springs, it will help to keep prices low throughout the region in the long term, Linehan told the commission.

By Julia Glick

The Press-Enterprise

24 May 2007

pe.com