A second local wind turbine project was proposed for an area near Camp Rock Road – the latest example in the statewide push for renewable energy as presented at the most recent Municipal Advisory Council meeting.
FPL Energy of Florida plans to construct 34 turbines – which are a total of 389 feet tall, the equivalent of a 40-story building – on just 52 of those acres, explained Eduardo Batalla, director of wind energy projects for the company. The utilized property will be along the ridge of the mountains.
Batalla said that West Fry Wind Project is in talks with the Bureau of Land Management to acquire 3,100 acres by Camp Rock Road in the Johnson Valley Off-Road Vehicle area.
Their parent company, FPL, has 56 wind projects in 16 states, and 90 percent of their energy portfolio is based on renewables such as solar, hydro and wind turbines.
Batalla said that the turbines themselves would take six to eight months to construct and would have a life-span of 40 years. The power generated would be enough to power 8,000 to 12,000 homes annually, BLANK added.
While Batalla said that benefits to the community include a $25 million tax benefit (from the company’s $140 million investment) and the use of 75 to 150 laborers during the six month construction period, local residents were not so easily persuaded.
“You don’t live here, you don’t have to deal with these,” said resident Karen Smith. “There’s a lot of lives here you’re going to impact.”
Along with bringing up the issue of what another wind turbine park would do to local property values, Smith said that the structures would be in direct view from her backyard gazebo, where she goes to unwind.
“I’m not going to live the rest of my days looking at these things,” Smith said. “You’ll go back to Florida and my gazebo view is gone. And I’m just one person of thousands you’ll affect.”
Batalla acknowledged her concerns, and those of other speakers who chose to comment on similar concerns, as well as unrest over the impact on the environment.
“The bottom line is we realize we’re affecting communities with these projects” Batalla said. “There’s a price to pay for the benefit of the whole.”
When asked why existing wind turbine parks, such as those in Palm Springs, can’t be restored, Batalla admitted that a great deal of it is economic, refurbishing being a worse investment than building new.
Edythe Seehafer, and environmental coordinator for the BLM jumped in to add that because the BLM only leases land, in most cases making additions or improvement to existing structures can be difficult with the lease agreements.
Batalla also said that in an effort not to detract from the enjoyment of off-roaders, there would not be fences around the turbines themselves. The substation that will be built to accommodate the energy transfer into existing Southern California Edison lines, however, will be fenced.
Seehafer summed up the air of the night, by addressing concerns of the residents and by inviting them for feedback. There was a public scoping meeting on Monday at the elementary school.
“We understand that you feel very strongly about your community and community goals. I don’t have insight into your vision for the community, but certainly the BLM wants to know,” Seehafer said. “We would love to have a dialogue with you so we can take any concerns you have into consideration.”
3 July 2008
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