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'Green' Tehachapi residents petition against wind farm

Hundreds of Tehachapi residents are trying to ban a wind farm from blowing into their part of town, but Kern County may not have legal grounds to stop the San Diego company that wants to build it. The nearly 700 Tehachapi residents have signed a petition against giant wind generators, but it's not because they're anti-environment. It's quite the opposite. They just don't want the wind farms blowing in their back yards. "If you picture a football field spinning in the air, that's how big they will be," Kassandra McQuillen explained.

Hundreds of Tehachapi residents are trying to ban a wind farm from blowing into their part of town, but Kern County may not have legal grounds to stop the San Diego company that wants to build it.

The nearly 700 Tehachapi residents have signed a petition against giant wind generators, but it's not because they're anti-environment. It's quite the opposite. They just don't want the wind farms blowing in their back yards.

"If you picture a football field spinning in the air, that's how big they will be," Kassandra McQuillen explained.

It's not something that's going to blow over any time soon. Tehachapi residents are petitioning against enormous wind generators that could be placed within 500 feet of their homes.

Merle Carnes heads the Property Owners Association for Old West Ranch. It's a small mountain community in Tehachapi that is trying to tackle the wind turbine giant Terra-Gen.

"The one thing that Terra-Gen has done is make a grave error," Carnes said. ''And that error is they have disrespected the folks at Old West Ranch."

Ironically, the West Ranch residents are some of the most "green" people in the country.

"I cut this wood... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Hundreds of Tehachapi residents are trying to ban a wind farm from blowing into their part of town, but Kern County may not have legal grounds to stop the San Diego company that wants to build it.

The nearly 700 Tehachapi residents have signed a petition against giant wind generators, but it's not because they're anti-environment. It's quite the opposite. They just don't want the wind farms blowing in their back yards.

"If you picture a football field spinning in the air, that's how big they will be," Kassandra McQuillen explained.

It's not something that's going to blow over any time soon. Tehachapi residents are petitioning against enormous wind generators that could be placed within 500 feet of their homes.

Merle Carnes heads the Property Owners Association for Old West Ranch. It's a small mountain community in Tehachapi that is trying to tackle the wind turbine giant Terra-Gen.

"The one thing that Terra-Gen has done is make a grave error," Carnes said. ''And that error is they have disrespected the folks at Old West Ranch."

Ironically, the West Ranch residents are some of the most "green" people in the country.

"I cut this wood myself," Lela Siri said as she threw a piece of wood in her fireplace.

The residents have to work to heat their homes, pump their own water, and have personal wind generators to produce electricity. Many of the residents already have some generators in their yard but they fear more would cast a shadow on their way of life. Dozens of generators stand tall on the ridge near Siri's home. She doesn't mind because they were there first and are miles from her house.

"I love wind energy," Siri explained. "I love the idea. I'm green. Everything here is solar. We're totally off grid, and we make sacrifices to live on this ranch."

But legally, the new generators could be placed as close as 500 feet to her house, and that reminds Siri of the Los Angeles suburb she was happy to leave six years ago.

"If you're going to live next to a freeway you want to know about it before you buy," Siri said. "And I bought up here for the peace and quiet of it, and it is quiet."

However, the CEO of Terra-Gen says the new machines are quieter. Also, he argues not all landowners are battling the big generators.

"The flip side to that is that we've contracted with land owners who want to develop the property for wind," CEO Randy Hoyle said.

Connie Ward is one of those residents. She says the new wind farm is better than other development plans.

"I would hate to section it off to 64 town homes," Ward said.

Ward argues the turbines are away from roads and from West Ranch homes.

"I just think it's people that don't know or don't understand," Ward said. "Because really it doesn't encroach on anything. It's going to be the ridge across the top that's actually our ridge."

Another concern for the petitioning residents is fire. They fear the new turbines will block firefighters air paths, making the West Ranch dip tank useless. However Terra-Gen says it can shut down the machines in Tehachapi, and even as far away as Texas, with just one click.

"We have sites in peaks in Colorado, Wyoming, and Big Springs, Texas," Terra-Gen Vice President of Operations Dean Landon said. "We can control those turbines from here."

Landon says the new turbines generate more electricity.

"One turbine is probably enough for 10 houses," he explained.

Additionally, the turbines will generate revenue. The 300 Terra-Gen turbines are expected to bring in $30 million annually to Kern County, but Merle Carnes doesn't think that will be enough to sway county planning commissioners to side with Terra-Gen.

"I think they're going to see Old West Ranch," she said of the commissioners. "I absolutely do because we're not asking them to kill their project. We're not asking them to get rid of their project. We're asking them to move just a few more wind turbines."

Residents don't plan on taking this to court, and West Ranch land owner Kassandra McQuillen, who is also a lawyer, thinks that's wise.

"That's what i would advise them as an attorney. If you're that bothered by it you should just move," McQuillen said. "It doesn't seem fair, but I'm not going to take $100,000 from you to fight a fight that I'm not sure I can win because the law is so new."

A small town in Maine is fighting its case in court, but McQuillien hopes Kern County Commissioners will update zoning codes so it doesn't get to that point in Tehachapi.

"Give us an extra acre buffer zone, and then we avoid all this complication down the road," she said.

Lela Siri is more concerned with a personal future case.

"I have plans for this place," Siri said with tears in her eyes. "I have grandkids. I have plans for this place, but we'll just see what happens."

17 News will have the county's reaction on this issue Thursday night. County planning commissioners will hear from West Ranch residents and Terra-Gen representatives at the Board of Supervisors chambers at 7:00 pm Thursday in downtown Bakersfield.


Source: http://www.kget.com/news/lo...

NOV 11 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/23118-green-tehachapi-residents-petition-against-wind-farm
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