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Sand Canyon wind project draws crowd  

Credit:  By: Claudia Elliott, Managing Editor, Tehachapi News, www.tehachapinews.com 23 February 2011 ~~

Proponents of two Sand Canyon wind projects said they wanted to hear what Sand Canyon residents think about their proposed projects —and on Wednesday night, Feb. 16, they got an earful.

Nearly 100 people crowded into the West Park Community Center to hear a short presentation from Helo Energy, LLC, about its two projects which are proposed for land near the entrance to Sand Canyon, north of Highway 58 and east of Sand Canyon Road.

The project would require a zone change and the Kern County Planning Dept. is in the process of preparing an Environmental Impact Report.

As part of the EIR process the county will hold at least one public hearing. The county held a “Scoping Session” for the EIR on Nov. 29.

Mike Clary, a principal in Helo Energy, LLC, said the county assessor’s office provided a list of about 100 addresses to which his company mailed invitations to the Feb. 16 meeting.

Still, most Sand Canyon residents had not heard of the project until a few neighbors got the invitations – and wondered why everyone else had not.

Clary and consultant Jeffrey Smith told those gathered Wednesday night they had made their best effort to get the word out because they wanted to hear what residents think. Smith noted several times that the meeting was unofficial and not part of the county’s process for considering the proposed projects.

Those who filled the meeting room – most standing for nearly two hours – did not disappoint.

The Helo proposal would develop two projects, probably using up to 17 very large turbines. Although turbines are visible on the hills across Highway 58 to the south of Sand Canyon, none have yet been developed in the canyon which is home to Tomo-Kahni State Historic Park, Buddhist monatery, donkey rescue, shooting range and more than 100 homes along with numerous undeveloped residential properties

“We want to know what your concerns are in this very early stage of design,” Smith said.

“We don’t want it,” canyon resident Steve Steele said. “Put one in your backyard first and then you can put one in mine.”

Another resident, Debbie Hartman – known to her friends as “Sparks” – said she likes windmills, but has concerns about the proximity of the proposed wind project to homes, particularly since there is only one road in and out of the canyon.

A dirt road which funtions as emergency access when the canyon is flooded – as it was in December – might be blocked by the project, some residents said.

Clary, who said Helo purchased the property on which it wants to develop the projects, said the area is a good wind resource.

Residents expressed concerns including access, safety, wildfire potential, noise, and impact on the environment and wildlife as well as their property values.

April Bigley said she has read of something called “Wind Turbine Syndrome” which causes stress.

The Tehachapi News will provide continuing coverage of the proposed Sand Canyon wind projects in upcoming editions.

Source:  By: Claudia Elliott, Managing Editor, Tehachapi News, www.tehachapinews.com 23 February 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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