Library filed under Zoning/Planning from California
Despite the hoopla over renewable energy - media chatter, government rebates, neighbors who "go green" - the nuts and bolts of installing more Earth-friendly power sources often get stuck. San Diego County, for example, is wrestling with how to handle applications for using residential wind turbines. Critics say the approval process is confusing and drawn-out enough to discourage investment in green power, just as companies are moving to fill the home-windmill niche.
The Tehama County Planning Commission Thursday approved a use permit for a series of 330-foot meteorological test towers outside Mineral. With use permits issued for as many as five towers to test the feasibility of installing wind turbines, Padoma Windpower has been granted the authority to build and keep the towers on Sierra Pacific land for as many as 36 months.
A Crescent City wind ordinance seems to be as elusive as the breeze a turbine tries to catch. More than a year after the Planning Commission decided to write a new law that would allow small wind energy systems within city limits, the board delayed taking a final vote on the proposed guidelines to allow more time for revisions. "They have some lingering concerns about setbacks and noise," Crescent City Planner Michele Rambo said.
The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission denied a Lompoc resident's attempt to waylay an alternative energy project Wednesday, but approved the first step for a senior housing development in Old Town Orcutt. The commission unanimously denied an appeal that took issue with temporary meteorological towers that are part of a renewable wind-energy project southwest of Lompoc.
The City Council is trying to craft rules for electricity-generating wind energy systems that won't divide the city's residents into warring camps of "wind energy advocates" and NIMNBYs: "Not in my neighbor's back yard." So far, it's been tough to find a happy medium.
The Temecula City Council wants to take a closer look at a wind energy ordinance and another proposed ordinance that would offer protection for the city's heritage trees. During Tuesday's meeting, the council postponed a hearing on the heritage tree ordinance until its next meeting in mid-July and voted 3-0 to create a subcommittee to look more closely at the proposed regulations on the harnessing of wind energy.
San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted to streamline the process for meteorological equipment testing for wind energy turbines while directing county staff to return to the board with an analysis on developing a two-tiered ordinance, which separated domestic and commercial systems. On May 12 the supervisors established $350,000 of funding to prepare an Environmental Impact Report.
Prompted by a determined resident who erected a wind turbine in violation of city code, Rancho Palos Verdes officials are contemplating a change in their policy on "small wind" systems. But it won't happen anytime soon. The City Council on Tuesday decided to put off consideration of the issue until it becomes clear what will happen with related state legislation.
The 35-foot-tall Skystream 3.7 - a small wind turbine marketed for residential use - overlooks Palos Verdes Drive East from Ramirez's fruit tree-filled backyard. Neighbors and passers-by have been calling Rancho Palos Verdes City Hall to ask about the electricity-producing turbine since it began spinning last month. The inquiries led to a code violation letter from municipal staff to Ramirez, who put up the turbine to power his home without seeking city permission.
A "wind farm" that would take advantage of the gusts that have been blowing through the Central Coast at 30 to 50 mph is moving right along despite a lawsuit filed against the county's approval of the project. Construction won't begin for at least a year, but in the meantime officials of the developer say they are working to meet all the requirements imposed by the county with the intention of protecting the environment surrounding the "clean energy" project.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously February 25 to streamline the permit process for meteorological equipment testing (MET) facilities. "It's always a balance," said Supervisor Dianne Jacob. "The Administrative Permit process still allows a public review process. Specific conditions have to be met."
So after all back and forth over the last two years about whether the wind turbines should be built on Hatchet Mountain, we hear in the Inter Mountain News that the developers are not returning calls and the project may be "delayed" due to financing problems. ...The county should make them post at least a $10 million bond to insure that if a similar financial failure strikes, guaranteed funds will be available to remove these massive turbines and restore Hatchet Mountain to its former beauty.
Environmentalists, renewable energy developers, and regulatory officials on Tuesday hammered out ways to build solar, wind and geothermal projects in the Mojave Desert and still preserve the ecosystem. "It will be a challenge to strike that balance... but it can be done," said Kevin Hunting, of the state Department of Fish and Game.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously today to make it easier for energy firms to test for suitability for wind turbines in rural areas. ...
The Lompoc Wind Farm was on the supervisors' plate this Tuesday after neighbors of the project site, George and Cheryl Bedford, and the California Department of Fish and Game filed appeals of its unanimous approval at the County Planning Commission last fall. The latter objected to the undeniable impact that the wind turbines, with their 135-foot blades approaching 200 miles per hour at the tip, would have on bird and bat populations. The former was more concerned about the desecration of viewsheds and noise pollution.
Federal approval could come early this year, after a seven-year fight with opponents, including environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who might see the towers on the horizon five miles offshore from their vacation homes. Will we have the same battles here, or will Marin accept the installation of renewable energy producing facilities "in our backyard"? Enthusiastic support for the abstract concept of renewable energy sources now meets the reality of what's on the ground.
Diana Hofman thought her frustrations with Murrieta city government would be whooshed away by her backyard wind turbine. Instead, the wind energy pioneer said she's fuming over the city's determination that the 40-foot-tall windmill is too bright. Hofman said the city told her they won't make a final inspection of the galvanized steel windmill until it loses its luster.
Now we're being asked to give a blank check to the DWP and City Hall to spend billions of dollars on the nation's largest solar energy initiative ever -- a proposal that has no planning, no financial analysis, no engineering study. Approval of Measure B on the March 3 ballot would be a costly mistake. It will cost ratepayers dearly, set back hopes for reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and provide the special interests and politicians with a license to steal.
The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday cleared the way for construction of the Sunrise Powerlink, a contentious transmission line that promises to bring more reliable and renewable power from the Imperial Valley to San Diego. The 4-1 vote allows San Diego Gas & Electric Co. to move forward with the 123-mile, $1.9 billion power-line project, which could deliver enough electricity to serve 650,000 households.
The board votes to grant more time for ongoing discussions between the parties involved. The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted 4-0 (Supervisor Joni Gray recused herself) to continue a hearing on appeals of the Lompoc Wind Energy Project to a date in February 2009.