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Supervisors to consider wind turbines in East County

Wind turbines could provide electricity to 60,000 homes, but opponents worry about fire dangers and environmental impacts.

Two major energy projects slated for eastern San Diego County are scheduled to be taken up Wednesday by the Board of Supervisors.

The agenda calls for the supervisors to consider the Tule Wind Power Project, which consists of up to 128 wind turbines on 725 acres in McCain Valley, and transmission lines that would carry power generated by wind turbines in Baja California to a San Diego Gas & Electric substation near Jacumba.

The Tule Wind Power Project encompasses land under jurisdiction of the county, federal Bureau of Land Management, Ewiiaapaayp Indian Reservation, Bureau of Indian Affairs and California State Lands Commission. The BLM has already granted approval for 62 turbines, but declined 34 others.

The portion to be considered by the supervisors consists of five turbines and various associated facilities, such as a substation, transmission lines and towers, a 5,000-square-foot operations and maintenance building, and improvements to nearby roadways.

The county Planning Commission recommended that permits for the turbines be denied, but that approval be given to the other facilities. The panel also suggested that the transmission lines be installed underground.

The proposal from Iberdrola Renewables Inc. of Portland, Ore., is expected to provide enough power for 60,000 homes in San Diego County and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In the other project, transmission lines would carry energy produced by wind turbines at the Energia Sierra Juarez plant in Baja California to San Diego County. The proposed lines would run less than one mile from the Mexican border to the SDG&E substation.

The county Planning Commission voted to approve the lines.

Both projects face opposition for their environmental impacts and worries from residents over fire danger. A county staff report said fire mitigation provisions would be imposed on the two facilities, and that the concerns of opponents have been addressed.