The first – and possibly only – wind farm in Imperial County went in front of the public Wednesday and faces potential criticism from Ocotillo residents tonight.
The first of two scoping meetings for the Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Project took place Wednesday night in El Centro. The second meeting will be 6 p.m. today at the Ocotillo Community Park on West Imperial Highway.
1 – The project
The Ocotillo-area project is proposed to generate 550 megawatts of power – enough to power 300,000 homes – by the end of 2012, said Glen Hodges, project manager with Pattern Energy, the group proposing the project. It would include up to 193 wind turbines on mostly public lands.
The area chosen, mainly north and west of Ocotillo, has the highest levels of wind in the Valley, said John Calaway with the company.
“We don’t believe that there are any areas in Imperial Valley that have (the same) commercial wind levels,” he said. “I would be surprised if there are any other wind projects that are commercially viable.”
2 – The process
Environmental issues will be vetted in the coming months, said Jeffery Childers, planning and environmental coordinator with the Bureau of Land Management.
The bureau is the lead agency when dealing with the National Environmental Protection Act and federal historic preservation, he said. The county will work on the state and local guidelines.
The public scoping panels are early in the environmental process, Childers said. After the panels are held, a draft environmental impact statement will be produced and people will have the chance to comment on that.
3 – The public
People have a chance to express concerns through multiple ways, Childers said.
The meetings Wednesday and today give residents and any concerned people the opportunity to talk over their concerns with the company and the governmental agencies, he said. However, written comments are also being taken at the meetings.
The bureau will accept other public comments for the environmental scoping period through Jan. 21. Letters can be sent to Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Scoping Comments care of Cedric Perry, project manager at the Bureau of Land Management, California Desert District Office, 22835 Calle San Juan Los Lagos in Moreno Valley, CA 92253.
Comments can also be sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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