SUPERVISORS’ VOTE ON MAJOR BACKCOUNTRY ENERGY MEASURE DELAYED UNTIL FEB. 10

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By Miriam Raftery

Photos, left:  Campo Wind's turbines hae been fire-prone, causing multiple fires in the past. Residents worry that more turbines raise the risk of a catastrophic fire, if a blaze should begin during Santa Ana gusty winds.

February 5, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – A vote by County Supervisors on a Renewable Energy Overlay plan has been postponed until Wednesday, Feb. 10. If approved, the measure would designate vast swaths of rural East County for industrial-scale wind and solar energy projects.

The aim is to make it easier to get approval of projects that provide clean energy to meet state renewable energy mandates amid a climate crisis.  But the measure has also drawn strong opposition from some rural residents, including Donna Tisdale, who advise East County residents to contact Supervisors to voice opposition so that “Supervisors know how East County really feels about being thrown under the bus as a renewable energy sacrifice zone.”

Click on this link to register your  opinion with Supervisors on the Renewable Energy Overlay before the Feb. 10 hearing, which begins at 9 a.m.  The item is the second item on the agenda.

Tisdale is Chair of the Boulevard Planning Group and founder of Backcountry Against Dumps, a nonprofit that has sued the County over several major energy projects in the region. Residents living near existing wind turbines have complained of noise, sleep disruption and other health problems, flashing lights, visual blight from towers hundreds of feet tall, killing of birds, safety concerns from blades whirling off,loss of rural character and loss of property value for homes nearby. Solar projects have generated concerns over glare, loss of wildlife habitat and potential depletion of scarce groundwater for construction and cleaning of panels.

Photo, left:  Ocotillo Wind had a turbine hurl off an 11-ton blade onto a public trail. The site also had a turbine collapse and fall over. Campo Wind has also had numerous turbines whirl off blades after an explosion, thankfully at night in winter, when snow helped prevent a brush fire and no one was near the turbines to be injured.

Both wind and solar projects raise the risk of wildfires, since they rely on new electrical lines and power lines have sparked many fires in the past locally; wind turbines also each contain over 100 gallons of flammable lubricating oil. Several fires have already occurred locally from exploding wind turbines, fortunately none during Santa Ana winds that might have fueled the conflagrations into a major wildfire. Locally, wind turbines have also hurled off blades or even collapsed completely.

For additional information and continued updates, please visit the project’s website.

The Agenda, Board Letter, and supporting materials can be found on this Board Meeting Page.

For information on how to submit comments and public meeting participation, please see the Clerk of the Board website.

Photo, left: Map of proposed Renewable Overlay Zone shows location of potential wind and solar projects

A vote on a separate energy measure, the proposed Boulder Brush Substation, has been delayed until March 3.