San Diego Supes Approve Two Wind Projects

Mexican border near Jacumba. The transmission line from Energia Sierra Juarez would cross near here. | Photo: PS Hiker/Flickr/Creative Commons License

A wind project in eastern San Diego County, and a transmission line that would conduct energy from a yet-unbuilt wind project in Mexico, were approved by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors yesterday. The Supervisor whose district includes the two projects voted against them.

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The proposed 230-kilovolt transmission line project would bring power from the planned 156-megawatt Energia Sierra Juarez wind project in Baja California. The line would be 1.7 miles long, .6 miles of that inside the U.S. The line would cross the border near the hamlet of Jacumba.

The supervisors also approved a portion of Iberdrola Renewables' Tule Wind Power Project, which would generate up to 200 megawatts with as many as 128 wind turbines in eastern San Diego County's McCain Valley. The BLM has granted approval for half those turbines: Wednesday's move by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors covered five additional turbines, as well as transmission and substation equipment, buildings, and roadways.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob, whose Second Supervisorial District covers over 2,000 square miles of eastern San Diego County, voted against both projects citing concern over fire risk and "increasing industrialization of the backcountry."

Tule Wind is unusual among renewable energy projects in the eastern San Diego County/western Imperial County area, in that a local Native group is a strong supporter of the project. The Ewiiaapaayp Band of Kumeyaay Indians, whose lands would hold a portion of the project, are counting on Tule Wind for the perceived economic benefits it would bring to the band's seven enrolled members.

Other local renewable energy projects, including the Ocotillo Express wind project and the now-mothballed Imperial Solar Two project, have been opposed by local Native people. The Quechan tribe's lawsuit over Imperial Solar Two was likely the final straw that pushed developer Tessera into bankruptcy. The Quechan have also sued over the Ocotillo Express wind project east of Tule Wind, now under construction. The tribe and its supporters plan a demonstration against Ocotillo Wind this Saturday in Ocotillo.

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