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Supervisors to consider expansion of wind energy project zoning

The county’s wind energy ordinance will be on the board of supervisors’ agenda Wednesday, as it holds a public hearing that could give the green light to wind energy projects in the Boulevard and Borrego Springs areas.

A county wind energy ordinance has been in development since 2009, when the board of supervisors directed staff to develop a new regulatory framework for wind turbines that would simplify processing and bring regulations in line with current wind turbine technologies. The established regulation defined wind turbine systems that generate 50 kilowatts or less as small projects, and systems with a cumulative capacity of more than 50 kilowatts as large ones.

Amendments to the county’s zoning ordinance are to be considered at the Wednesday hearing, including a series of deletions, additions and revisions, to provide an updated set of definitions, procedures, and standards for reviewing and permitting wind turbines and meteorological testing facilities.

The proposals also include a General Plan amendment to modify the Boulevard Subregional Planning Area of the Mountain Empire Subregional Plan – to increase opportunities for large wind turbine projects through the major use permit process, and the Borrego Springs Community Plan – to allow opportunities for small wind turbine development there.

The board of supervisors will look at certifying that the final environmental impact report for the requested amendments has been completed in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act and to adopt the amending ordinance and resolution. The public hearing is scheduled to take place during the supervisors’ 9 a.m. meeting, in Room 310 in the County Administration Center, 1600 Pacific Highway.