The Kern County Planning and Community Development Department presented a draft of the proposed Wind Resource Area Boundary Map to a full house at the Jan. 11 meeting of the Tehachapi Municipal Advisory Council. All members of the council were present. The audience exceeded 100 people as Craig Murphy Advanced Planning/Community Division Chief began the presentation. Murphy began by giving some background information AB 32 was one of the primary driving forces behind a lot of the renewable energy development that has been seen in all of Kern County and through out all of California. AB 32 is the “Global Solutions Warming Act of 2006” and it set the state’s 2020 greenhouse gas reduction goals.
Since that time a number of other legislative actions have taken place On Nov. 17, 2008, executive order S1408 identified a renewable energy goal for the entire state at 32 percent. On Feb. 22, 2011, the Kern county Board of Supervisors adopted a renewable resources goal of 10,000 megawatts for introduction by the year 2015. Those megawatts can be derived from a number of different factors solar, wind biomass and does not include projects that go into the grid that includes renewable energy that is developed by a solar project that is adjacent to a farming operation and all the power goes directly from that solar field to the farming operation so it’s a number of factors.
Murphy said, “Eastern Kern County has been identified as a location for wind development for a number of years. The wind is one of the primary factors. It has ideal mountain topography velocity air density and a number of other factors. There are existing transmission facilities that have been put in place. Including the SCE wind hub and whirlwind substation and the ongoing construction of the Tehachapi renewable transmission project. SCE and other public utility companies have made commitments through power purchase agreements to accept at this time 1500 megawatts of energy generated from this region of the county.” Pointing to an older map, Murphy continued, “The Tehachapi Wind Resource Area is an unofficial wind boundary of where wind resources are known to occur. Its never been adopted by kern County in any form. It’s never been adopted by any of the jurisdictions in this area, but it has become to be known as the Tehachapi wind resource area.”
Current projects that have been built or approved, account for 3500 megawatts with in Tehachapi community area. Currently proposed applications submitted to planning for processing at this time account for an additional 905 megawatts of energy. At this time wind projects can be proposed anywhere in Kern County. Applicants would request that the zone classification for what ever those properties are be changed to what planning calls the WE combining district be added to the current zoning district.
Murphy said, “The purpose of this new map is to identify those areas in which the WE zone request could be considered by the Board of Supervisors. If you are located outside of those boundaries the Supervisors would not be able to consider a proposed zone change. Based on our preliminary discussions internally, it is our intent to recommend that whatever version of the map is identified as the appropriate boundary, that that map be included into our zoning ordinance and be officially adopted as part of the ordinance.
On Nov. 8, the supervisors said, “This is something that we have heard the community identify, this is something that would help development community know where wind would be appropriate from a land use prospective.” Murphy continued, “They directed us to prepare a boundary map. As part of that they requested that we take that map make it available to the public for their review and comments as to the boundaries that we identified and to take those comments under consideration. Then to bring back to the Supervisors what we believe would potentially be an appropriate map for them to consider. It is our intent to gather comments today and through out the next two weeks, then go back to the Board on Jan. 31, to present a revised map based on those comments and outline and identify to them based the general comments that we have received to date. At that time the Supervisors will direct staff as to what actions to take. I want to sure that you’re commission and the community that on Jan. 31 a map will not be adopted.”
Murphy said, “The map I’m going to presenting today is out first step at where we think the appropriate boundary lines should go. The factors considered were where does the wind blow, existing transmission lines, substations are a factor, and the airport compatibility plan. Most of eastern kern county is located in the R2 508 restricted air space complex Military protected air space, where there would be a problem if projects were built over a certain height because of their operations.”
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