SANTA NELLA - A proposal from a Netherlands-based company to construct an energy-producing wind turbine on property owned by the Santa Nella County Water District generated little enthusiasm from the district’s governing board.
Directors recently decided against moving forward in contract negotiations with EWT, the firm interested in building a tower on wastewater treatment plant property to the west of Highway 33 south of Interstate 5.
Renting property for the turbine tower could generate an estimated $50,000 annually in revenue to the district over a 20-year period, according to staff reports. Final terms, however, would not have been set until a formal contract was negotiated with EWT.
Amy Montgomery, the district’s general manager, said legal funds have already been expended in preliminary work on the proposal. She asked the board for direction before committing additional resources.
“I asked you last month if this is something you are interested in. If not, I am not going to spend any more money. There are going to be costs involved,” Montgomery said of the negotiations.
Jarod Bishop, EWT’s West Coast business development manager, was present at the Feb. 9 board meeting.
Bishop said that conditions appeared favorable to locate a wind turbine on the district-owned property, but noted that further investigation would be required to verify the viability. That process, he indicated, would determine the precise terms the company could offer.
He said the company would need a very small footprint for a tower - and that the district would for the most part be able to do as it pleased with the surrounding area even if it was technically under lease to EWT.
“We don’t care what you do with the property as long as it doesn’t affect our project. The land we are leasing is more of a conceptual area. It only relates to the production of energy, not the use of the land,” Bishop told directors. “We just need access so we can maintain it, and the wind.”
Board members, however, did not embrace the proposal.
Patricia Ramos-Anderson said that, if interested in a wind turbine project, the district should solicit proposals from several providers.
“Let’s look at others to see who is going to give us the best deal,” she insisted.
“We’re not going to submit a request for proposals,” Montgomery stated. “We are not in the business of putting in wind turbines. This is merely to rent the land.”
Ramos-Anderson also expressed concern that the property may be needed for wastewater treatment purposes as Santa Nella grows - particularly if a planned system to recycle water does not materialize.
“We know that we are looking at a recycling water (system), but if we are not able to get funding we would not have access to the land we will be needing in the future,” she stated.
Fellow board member Peter Silvas said simply that he was “not ready at this time” to move forward with the wind turbine project.
Board member Steve Landry indicated he had not heard enough specifics to support moving forward.
“I think we are going to need a heck of a lot more information on what the benefit is to the community,” Landry stated. If the district ever does move forward with a project such as the wind turbine, he emphasized, the rate payers of the district should be the beneficiaries.
Further negotiations would produce more detailed information for board members to consider, Montgomery suggested in posing a question in response to Landry’s statement.
The board, though, voted to drop the proposal rather than moving ahead in negotiations with EWT.