TEHACHAPI, Calif. – At the end of last week, plans for a massive Tehachapi wind project were pulled. It was a project that many residents and city officials felt would have been too close to town.
Now residents in Sand Canyon are hoping that the project proposed for their area is the next one to go. It’s an area known for its picturesque beauty.
“It’s amazingly beautiful,” said April Biglay, a canyon resident. She is also the treasurer of Friends of Sand Canyon, a group founded to fight this particular wind project.
The canyon is also known for its seclusion from Tehachapi.
“We really liked Sand Canyon,” said resident Shelly Young. “We’re in the back. The beauty back there is wonderful. We love the residents; they’re wonderful people. It was just the right place to be.”
Now many residents aren’t so sure it is the right place.
“If they mess up our canyon, then they mess up the rest of our lives,” said Young.
Resident Bob Biggs agreed.
“It doesn’t really fit well with 500-foot tall industrial machines,” he said.
A new wind project, proposed by Helo Energy, LLC, would add up to 17 wind turbines on about 300 acres in the canyon. It’s something residents said would be devastating for the area.
“It’s poetic to some people, but to us, it’s an abomination,” said Biggs.
The proposed project would not only put windmills on the foothills, but also on the canyon floor. Residents said it would dramatically alter the look of the landscape.
“We’re going to be going through a jungle of turbines,” said Beverly Billingsley, who is the president of Friends of Sand Canyon.
In addition to aesthetics, decreasing home values, and noise, another major concern is that there is only one way in and out of the canyon.
“We’re going to suffer through possible road closures because of problems with the windmills,” said Young. “If we have a fire, it’s going to be devastating to the area.”
In a letter obtained by 23 ABC, the city of Tehachapi told the Kern County Planning Department that the City Council would go on record as saying they’re against new proposals that are close to residential areas, including Sand Canyon.
Residents vow to keep on fighting.
“We’re fighting for this windmill project to go away,” said Biglay. “That’s it. Clear cut. No concessions.”
Late Wednesday afternoon, Diane Oglesby, Helo Energy’s representative called 23 ABC to explain why the company zeroed in on Sand Canyon. Oglesby said it was because of the proximity to other wind projects. She also said their next step is public outreach.
The Friends of Sand Canyon’s next meeting is scheduled for July 9.
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