BOULEVARD, Calif. – Opponents started to take aim at a proposed wind power project in the East County on Wednesday.
“It’s scary and distressing,” said Boulevard resident Donna Tisdale as she described the pervasive online videos of wind turbines malfunctioning and catching fire.
She said she is becoming more distressed in light of the proposed Tule Wind Power Project.
The 9.5-mile stretch of 130 wind turbines would run a few miles north of Interstate 8, mostly on federal land. The turbines would provide power for 60,000 homes.
Tisdale also leads the Boulevard Planning Group.
“I just feel a total loss of what will no longer be,” she said.
She said that includes unspoiled views of McCain Valley wiped out and pointed to noise complaints that followed a nearby unrelated wind project when 25 wind turbines were put in just north of I-8 near Boulevard several years ago.
“I get a lot of complaints… it’s thump whoosh, thump whoosh,” said Tisdale. “It’s heard and felt.”
But Tisdale’s biggest concern is fire, especially after an incident in December at the neighboring wind project shut down the turbines for months.
“Witnesses saw a blue ball of fire arc from turbine to turbine,” said Tisdale.
Tisdale fears the next problem could spark a wildfire.
The company overseeing the Tule Project said they will fund local firefighter staffing.
Iberdrola Renewables told 10News: “We take fire protection very seriously… No ground fires have been started as a result of a faulty wind turbine.”
Some supporters said the benefits of the project outweigh the risk.
“For the economy, it’s going to be a good thing,” said Frankie Thibodeau, who has lived in Boulevard for 30 years.
Thibodeau, who supports the project, said the turbine would create a projected number of 325 jobs plus 12 permanent ones and $5 million dollars in property tax revenues for the county.
The projections were provided by the company.
“Our business community has gone to nothing and we need this,” said Thibodeau.
The company is in the midst of preparing the environmental impact study. The project requires several permits but remains on track to go up at the end of 2012.
Tisdale said the planning board and several non-profit groups are contemplating a lawsuit.
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