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County supervisors OK permit for wind turbine project

REGION – A proposed wind turbine project in Boulevard moved closer to reality today with the San Diego County Board of Supervisors certifying its environmental impact report and approving its major use permit and fire services agreement.

The Boulder Brush project is planned to consist of 60 wind turbines on land leased from the Campo Band of Diegueno Mission Indians off Ribbonwood Road, 2.3 miles north of Interstate 8.

The turbines will provide power for 70,000 homes, according to Nick Koutoufidis, of county Planning & Development Services, which had recommended the board approve the permit.

The wind turbines themselves and other supporting infrastructure are outside the county’s jurisdiction. A timeline for project construction was not made available.

According to the county Land Use & Environment department, Terra-Gen will operate the wind turbines, utility line, substation and other facilities including the portions on Campo tribal land. San Diego Gas & Electric will operate the project’s transformers.

The county conducted public outreach sessions and sent notices to area residents. The Boulevard Community Planning Group voted to deny the project.

Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher said that while very few things the county does have unanimous support, he was heartened by an energy project that had not only tribal support, but also a labor agreement for a project that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Nora Vargas, board vice chairwoman, said the project should also prioritize jobs Campo tribal members.

During a public comment period, the board heard from area residents on both sides of the issue.

Campo tribal officials praised the turbine project’s environmental and economic benefits.

Marcus Cuero, a leader with the Campo Kuumeyaay Nation, said it has been a struggle to build a viable economy, and building wind turbines “will help us to fund and stabilize the governmental services that we provide.”

“Protecting our earth is protecting ourselves, Cuero said. “It’s essential for our future … my people need this project.”

Amy Fuller, Terra Gen’s permitting director, said the turbine project “will do more to fight climate change than any other private development that will before the Board of Supervisors in 2021.”

A portion of revenues from the project will fund local senior food programs, scholarships and a local historical museum, Fuller said.

Donna Tisdale, chairwoman of the Boulevard Community Planning Group, said the proposed turbine project is located in a high-fire zone, and is too close to homes.

“We’re asking you to deny this,” said Tisdale, who added the project meets “the legal definition of negligence.”

Boulevard resident Teresa DeGroot said proponents were being dishonest in their claims about turbines, which are made out of hazardous materials, and destroy the landscape and wildlife.

“We moved out here over 20 years ago to enjoy the Back Country life, to escape the noise,” said DeGroot, who added there are tribal members don’t support this project.

1 comment

Donna Tisdale March 18, 2021 at 11:24 am

Your coverage left out the comments made by the tribal member who challenged the legality of the tribal vote approving Campo Wind and the failure of their leadership to hold votes on valid tribal petitions to recall their leadership and to terminate Campo Wind. The tribe did not overwhelmingly approve Campo Wind. Twice as many members signed petitions to terminate the 22 sq mile project with 60-586 ft tall 4.2 megawatt turbines, than the 31 who allegedly voted for it. Facts do matter.

Your coverage also left out that the FAA withdrew their previous NO HAZARD determination for the Project. A new determination for the project is pending. Without that FAA approval, Campo Wind violates the County’s own renewable energy regulates related to wind turbines not posing a hazard. Here, the FAA’s Southern California Terminal Approach Control objected to the turbines over aviation safety concerns.

Not a single word was uttered by our new Supervisor Joel Anderson in defense of his constituents, other than to vote AYE. Chairman Fletcher’s comment that it ‘warmed his heart’ to approve this destructive project was actually heartless when it comes to our disproportionately impacted and predominantly low income residents (tribal and private) who will suffer the harm from the acoustic, electrical and light pollution generated by these massive turbines.

Hopefully, the courts will actually listen to and evaluate the truth that Terra-Gen, the County, and the feds have refused to acknowledge with their manipulated and inadequate environmental reviews that only addressed turbines 1/2 the size and power of Campo Wind turbines.

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