August 29, 2011

Santa Maria Airport objects to wind turbines plan

By Brian Bullock, Staff Writer, Santa Maria Times, 29 August 2011

Green energy projects such as wind and solar power tend to be highly regarded efforts. But a proposal to build a wind turbine farm not far from the western edge of the Santa Maria Public Airport is getting a jaundiced eye from both local and federal authorities.

The proposal by Community Renewable Solutions, LLC of Santa Barbara is seeking to build seven wind turbines that would reach a height of 428 feet not far off the northwest flight path of the main runway about 3 miles from the airport.

Even though airport General Manager Chris Hastert only received notice of the proposal from the Federal Aviation Administration last week, the administration has already checked into the project and decided its dimensions would make it an obstruction to air traffic.

“We’re going to object to the project,” said Hastert, who isn’t alone in his opposition.

In its initial findings, which were submitted to Tamlyn Hunt of Community Renewable Solutions and airport administration, the FAA suggested the turbines would have to be reduced to 275 feet in height to not exceed its obstruction standards.

Hunt is an attorney specializing in regulation of renewable energy and energy efficiency policy, according to his company’s website. Past clients include the cities of Oxnard and Thousand Oaks, Vaquero Energy in Bakersfield, Allied Waste Services, Inc. of Santa Barbara and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The project is proposed for a parcel not far north of Betteravia Road between Black Road and Stinton Road.

Hastert said anything 400 feet tall near the northwest flight path would be a hazard.

The airport is in the middle of a multimillion-dollar project to extend its main runway and add navigational aids that would allow it to handle larger and heavier aircraft.

“Usually with developers, they come and talk to us first,” Hastert said of the proposal and the company’s inquiry to the FAA. “Maybe they did that several years ago.”

The FAA noted the proposed construction would be an obstruction to air travel and would affect the operation of the airport’s navigation aids.

Hunt said the project is in its infancy, especially after receiving the notification from the FAA.

“We requested a determination from the FAA and basically got bad news. Right now, it’s premature to discuss it,” he said. “It’s very hypothetical as a project right now.”

URL to article: