A proposed wind energy project, darling of those who wish to “save the environment,” south of Lompoc has been contentious since it was first proposed almost a decade ago. While this project proposes to produce 100 megawatts of energy, none of it will be used by the city of Lompoc.
Opponents of the project, primarily those who own ranches which will be severely impacted by the thirty 50-story wind turbines, cited the environmental and aesthetic impacts including losses caused by bird strikes, noise caused by the blades, traffic on Miguelito Canyon Road, and the loss of the current bucolic viewscape associated with the massive structures during challenges to the project.
Of course, none of this mattered to environmentalists; you see, they support “green energy” projects no matter how much damage they create.
Strauss Wind, LLC is the current wind farm proponent thinking they are ready to start construction, but before they can do that, they need to obtain numerous transportation related permits; one of the approval authorities is the city of Lompoc.
A public hearing on June 3 was conducted to discuss one aspect of the process; Strauss Wind was offering a Community Benefit Agreement that could provide $150,000 to the city’s general fund at the completion of the project, if all conditions of the agreement are met; their original offer was for $1 million but they ran out of money.
There is more to this story. Their latest application for an encroachment permit (this is what’s needed to allow transit through the city) was submitted on May 27 and deemed incomplete because it lacked all the information needed to assess traffic impacts.
What we know so far is that Strauss intends to use an estimated 161-203 extremely oversized truck trips (250 feet long – that’s 25 stories and 250,000 pounds) to move the turbines through Lompoc; the legal limit is 80,000 per load along truck routes.
This will require removal of traffic signal poles, trees, streetlights, signs and other items from the city and Caltrans right-of-way, and the city-owned property located southwest of the intersection of Ocean Avenue and I Street.
The 100 block of South I Street is not a prescribed truck route. Therefore, the Municipal Code prohibits loads in excess of 12,000 pounds unless the load is delivered to an address on the street; these loads are simply passing through.
The applicant claimed that although the gross weight exceeded road limits that the axle weight, or the distribution of the load, was well within limits.
Not to mention interfering with business along West Ocean Avenue and South I Street and residents along a half mile stretch of South I. These trips will occur over 8-15 weeks; then there are all the concrete trucks, contractors’ vehicles, heavy equipment transporters and construction material deliveries that will occur over many months.
But, back to the agreement that was offered to the city. The staff report includes information in the following two paragraphs.
At the end of the project, they would pay the city $150,000, “in exchange for the City’s agreement not to, directly or indirectly, oppose, protest, challenge, or seek mitigation measures from, the approvals Strauss needs from other government agencies.
“The city would also agree not to file, join, or support any lawsuit challenging any of the permits or approvals issued by any government agency for the Project.
“The $150,000 payment would be in addition to any costs Strauss is required to cover as conditions of its Lompoc permit approvals, including the cost of all impacts of the Project on City infrastructure, damage and wear and tear on City streets, staff time, and City Attorney time.”
The proponents must think the staff wouldn’t pay any attention to the details of the agreement because there was a provision stating: “Physical construction activities must commence in all areas of the Project, including transport of equipment along Ocean Ave and I Street, by June 15, 2020.”
The staff advised the council that “This means if Strauss does not begin construction on the Project site within 2 weeks from now, or does not start transporting equipment on Lompoc streets within 2 weeks from now, Strauss is not required to pay anything to the City.
“It is extremely unlikely this condition will be met. Further, Strauss has not indicated it has obtained its required permits from all other necessary government agencies, nor how long that might take.”
The project proponent said: “route preparations had already begun and that to receive the tax credits they must complete construction and deliver electricity by December 2020.” He is extremely optimistic.
He also said they “intend to pass through the City between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. for each trip.” This would require shutting down the intersection of I Street and Ocean Avenue during business hours.
Considering there were several open questions concerning this agreement, the council provided direction to staff regarding the agreement terms for further negotiation with Strauss Wind. They then continued the item until June 16. We’ll see if they come up with an agreement by then.
Note: links to supporting documents:
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding