FAIRFIELD – A lamb processing plant near Dixon has received county permission to build a 282-foot-tall wind turbine on its property.
Most of the massive wind turbines in Solano County are in the Montezuma Hills, where about 800 generate power for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. But Superior Farms wants one that would sit alone amid the rural flatlands at Highway 113 and Midway Road and provide electricity solely for the business.
There is a local precedent for building a turbine this size to help power a single business, but not within the rural county. Anheuser-Busch recently had a turbine constructed at its brewery within Fairfield city limits.
The county Planning Commission in November approved allowing the Superior Farms turbine. A neighbor appealed the issue to the county Board of Supervisors. The board on Tuesday unanimously approved allowing the turbine.
Ken Odom has a kennel next to Superior Farms. He noted that the Planning Commission gave Superior Farms the option of putting the turbine in a wastewater pond on the property. He expressed concern that building the foundation for the turbine 30 feet deep there could lead to groundwater pollution.
He also raised concerns about the proposed turbine being noisy and having the potential to cause damage if a spinning blade were to be hurled from it. Several other nearby property owners also oppose the project, bringing up such issues as the aesthetics of having a huge turbine in the area.
Shane MacKenzie of Superior Farms said the company has plants in several states and that the Solano County plant employs 156 people. The PG&E bill last year came to $893,000 and a wind turbine could provide 43 percent of the energy, he said.
Superior Farms wants to team with Foundation Windpower to build a turbine on the property. It costs $10 to process a lamb at the Denver plant and $19 at the Dixon plant, he said. The company is looking for ways to make the Dixon plant more efficient, MacKenzie said.
The company wants to be part of Solano County and doesn’t want to have to move, he said.
Superior Farms proposes to build the turbine outside of the wastewater pond, but that would require setback and noise waivers from a neighboring property owner. A representative for that neighboring property said that no deal has been struck for the alternative site.
That could leave the site in the wastewater pond as the only option. A permit would be needed from the state Regional Water Quality Control Board to build the turbine in the wastewater pond.
Supervisor Linda Seifert said the county needs a policy for individual wind turbines of this size that might be proposed outside of the Montezuma Hills wind turbine area.
“I like the idea of alternative energy,” she said. “Some people might consider (turbines) unsightly and I don’t particularly like the one at Anheuser-Busch. But there are tradeoffs.”
Supervisor Barbara Kondylis also saw the tradeoffs.
“I really am torn,” she said. “I love the project but I don’t know if I’d want to be living next door.”
The board decided that Superior Farms should have to pay to install trees on three neighboring properties to block the view of the turbine, if those property owners want the trees. It set a total cost of $15,000 for the trees, $5,000 per property.
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