The planning commission unanimously denied a use permit for Fountain Wind after more than 10 hours of public comment, including from many neighbors who contend the wind farm will harm the environment, diminish property values, hurt tourism and exacerbate the fire threat in the area. Commissioners were especially moved by Pit River Tribe members who said the wind farm would desecrate sacred tribal lands and bring more economic hardship to their community.
Rejected by the Shasta County Planning Commission after a public hearing in June, the controversial Fountain Wind project planned for the Intermountain area is now getting a second look by the company that wants to build it.
But the founder of a citizen’s group that opposes the wind farm said there is no scenario that would get members to change their mind.
ConnectGen LLC’s Henry Woltag said they heard “a lot of great feedback” at the June 22 planning commission hearing at Shasta College and are working to act on it.
“We’re currently looking long and hard at making some improvements to the project that would alleviate a lot of the concerns that were expressed during the hearing. This process of making the project better, and even getting additional public input, will take a little bit of time,” Woltag, the project manager, stated in an emailed statement to the Record Searchlight.
ConnectGen vowed to appeal the planning commission’s decision soon after the June hearing and now could bring its changes to the Shasta County Board Supervisors “before the end of the year,” Woltag said.
Beth Messick-Lattin, who founded Citizens in Opposition to the Fountain Wind Project, said even downsizing the project will not sway her group.
“I can confidently say that the citizens are in opposition and do not want a mitigation – they want it gone,” she said, “and they feel like they are being tortured with this postponement and postponement” of the appeal hearing.
For the record, the appeal hearing before the board of supervisors was never scheduled. The status of the hearing did come up at Tuesday’s board meeting, county Resource Management Director Paul Hellman said.
As it stands now, Fountain Wind would encompass 71 wind turbines that could be as high as 679 feet —higher than Shasta Dam – on 4,464 acres of leased timberland property about 6 miles west of Burney.
The project would have the capacity to generate up to 216 megawatts of electricity and the electricity generated would be enough to power more than 86,000 California homes, according to the project’s website.
Woltag at the June planning commission meeting said ConnectGen has a labor agreement with the California building trades to help assure the construction jobs to build it are local. He added that once built, the $300 million project would provide 12 full-time jobs.
The planning commission unanimously denied a use permit for Fountain Wind after more than 10 hours of public comment, including from many neighbors who contend the wind farm will harm the environment, diminish property values, hurt tourism and exacerbate the fire threat in the area.
Commissioners were especially moved by Pit River Tribe members who said the wind farm would desecrate sacred tribal lands and bring more economic hardship to their community.
At the June public hearing, Commissioner Tim MacLean also suggested maybe downsizing the wind farm would be a better fit for the location.
“So can they still hit their (energy) goal with fewer turbines?” he said at the meeting. “I’m struggling with the project as proposed.”
Hellman told the Record Searchlight on Tuesday that ConnectGen has not talked to his department yet about any changes to the project.
Messick-Lattin is concerned that her group won’t have enough time to look over the changes before the appeal hearing.
“So now you’re all of a sudden going to change it up and make it look better for those in the area but we in the area had no opportunity or time to counter any of this, other than stand by what we said about the whole project?” she said.
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