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East County wind farm project moves forward; Installation of testing towers near Boulevard approved

SAN DIEGO – A controversial wind farm project in the East County passed a preliminary hurdle Tuesday morning.

The San Diego County Department of Planning and Land Use approved the installation of MET towers, or testing towers, as a first step into the proposed wind farm.

The farm, called the Enel Jewel Valley Project, would provide renewable energy, and the project would span about 7,000 acres in the backcountry near Boulevard.

Some residents spoke out in favor of the project.

“From an economic development standpoint, wind and solar development is critical to maintaining the future of our economic viability. These projects bring jobs and create an economic boost for our local economy,” said Boulevard resident Randy Lenac.

However, many strongly disagreed.

“It’s not just a permit for some towers. It is actually the beginning of the end,” said Boulevard resident Jim Simpson.

It is a project so controversial that it prompted the company to send a letter to the county back in March, claiming its employees were in fear for their safety when they attend planning group meetings in Boulevard. That prompted them to request a law enforcement officer at future meetings.

“At these meetings, our employees have been threatened with violence and have been subjected to disrespectful foul comments from other attendees,” the company letter stated.

Boulevard Planning Group member Pat Stuart denied the threats and disrespectful behavior.

“Nobody was out of line and she never reported it to the sheriff,” Stuart said. “The sheriff’s office is 50 feet from where we hold our meetings, so that seems a bit peculiar.”

If the project is ultimately approved, construction would not begin for several years.