Reaction to the proposed 7,106-acre Pahnamid Wind Energy project in the Tehachapi Mountains continues to build in the form of community meetings, construction of opposition websites and letters to the Kern County Planning and Community Development Department.
The landowners and developer are withholding comment until all the data is in and the studies are completed.
“We want this process to be complete,” said Phil Wyman, a principal in the family-owned Antelope Canyon Ranch on which many of the proposed 137 wind turbines would be sited. “I can’t speak in detail because the data has not been fully collected and all the facts known. The knowledge has to be vetted.”
The county released a Notice of Preparation for the project on April 6 and consultants are combing the mountains, carrying out studies that will be submitted as part of the forthcoming Environmental Impact Report.
Comments at this point would be premature, Wyman said, as they will be dependent on the information gathered.
On the issues of turbines on the south faces of the mountains and the siting of transmission lines, Wyman said “We will address that at the appropriate time.”
Wyman said that Wyman land in the upper reaches of the proposed development, where it looks out over Mojave, already is surrounded by wind turbine projects on three sides.
While opponents assert that turbines will increase fire danger, Wyman said the presence of turbines and the access they afford will improve fire safety.
“We want them for two main reasons,” Wyman said, referring to turbines. “We need alternative energy to keep America independent and we need to open unsafe areas to beat the fire hazard. It’s lucky we haven’t seen a fire that has destroyed the watershed.”
He said his family has been good stewards of the land for 125 years, and they established a 30-year plan to manage the forests.
Kern County 2nd District Supervisor Zack Scrivner, who with his supervisor colleagues will have the final say on the Pahnamid project, wrote in an opinion piece published in this week’s Tehachapi News that he will not support “placing turbines on the ridgeline that are within clear view of the city of Tehachapi and a full view of the turbine can be seen.”
Additionally, Scrivner said he has “concerns for the proximity to the residents of Mountain Meadows and Old West Ranch that will need to be addressed.
“The fundamental issue for me is the backdrop of the natural, green mountains that gives the Tehachapi Valley its special feeling,” the supervisor said.
Fifty people showed up at the project scoping meeting in Bakersfield on May 6, a Friday afternoon. Of those, 23 told a panel of three county planners their objections to the project and one man said alternatives – such as housing developments – would be worse.
A group of concerned residents under the banner of Save Tehachapi Mountain was scheduled to meet Friday, May 13, at a home in Mountain Meadows to discuss the Pahnamid project.
The group’s website, www.savetehachapimountain.com, says the project will destroy the quality of life that exists in Tehachapi.
“Terra-Gen with its Pahnamid industrial wind machine project will bulldoze and destroy the Tehachapi Mountains and its beautiful scenic vistas (the Crown Jewel Gateway to Tehachapi and Kern County) by turning it into a major industrial complex with 137 monstrous metal dinosaur-like 500-foot-tall wind machines vibrating noisily with red flashing strobe-like lights… all Kern County residents will suffer…”
Taking a more deliberate tone, the city of Tehachapi sent a letter – written by Community Development Director David James and dated May 5 – to the Kern County planners with a list of 10 issues the city wants to see addressed in the EIR.
Significantly, James says that an alternative use of the land for housing developments is a “non-starter” from the perspective of the California Environmental Quality Act, and the prospect of houses should not be wielded as a scare tactic by project proponents.
The Tehachapi Municipal Airport Commission, at its May 10 meeting, voted to send a letter to the county expressing concern about the impact turbines might have on plans for a future FAA instrument flight designation, and asking that the matter be addressed in the EIR.
Tehachapi attorney Kassandra McQuillen’s website, http://eastkernwind.blogspot.com, explores the issue from a consumer advocacy position and provides links to the industry and wind turbine manufacturers.
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