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Dude, Where’s My Wind Farm?

Lompoc Project Roadblocked into Coma


Thursday, November 1, 2012
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By now the wind turbines were meant to be spinning and the green energy flowing liberally from Lompoc. Approved unanimously by Santa Barbara County supervisors nearly four years ago, Acciona Energy’s 65-turbine wind-farm project slated for portions of ag land in and around Miguelito Canyon was originally anticipated to be up and running at some point in 2010.

However, thanks to a long list of roadblocks ​— ​ranging from lawsuits and slow progress on the permitting front to economic woes and a soon-to-expire federal tax credit ​— ​the farm remains stuck in second gear, its fate very much up in the air. “There isn’t really much to report,” explained Acciona spokesperson Eric Schneider last week. “Like many projects across the country right now, Lompoc is in a period of waiting.”

Schneider was confident that Acciona would soon complete the paperwork necessary to extend the life of its existing permits from the county, which are set to expire early in 2013. Further, he explained, with the lawsuit challenging the environmental integrity of the project having been dismissed at virtually every level of the courts, the primary issues still hamstringing Lompoc wind are twofold: Acciona has yet to find a “suitable” power purchase agreement (PPA) to fund the project to completion. “Market dynamics are such that the availability of PPA’s are not as great as the number of wind farms under development,” summed up Schneider.

And this less-than-ideal situation is only made worse by the aforementioned wind tax credit. Essentially a subsidy for the wind-energy sector designed to help make it more competitive with other electricity sources, the credit, which costs about $1 billion a year and subsidizes wind energy to the tune of 2.2 cents a kilowatt hour, has become a bit of a hot potato in the current presidential race and is set to expire on December 31.

Comments

Independent Discussion Guidelines

Interesting Ethan how you left out the name of the Environmental Defense Center (enviros for hire) out of your article. They are blocking the project. These hyprocrites fight oil, but then block alternative energy programs. Could it be you have a soft spot for them? Just curious.

Oh yeah, I guess they are waiting to "settle" if their attorney costs are covered by Acciona.

BeachFan (anonymous profile)
November 1, 2012 at 8:10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

That's right, BeachFan. Writer Ethan Stewart left that out deliberately. Must have been.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
November 1, 2012 at 9:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Great concept, terrible location. Wind turbines would be visible from Jalama Beach Park to La Purisma Mission, with electricity to be sold to PG&E grid and not dedicated to serve SB Coast or Lompoc Valley. Better to site turbines on soon-to-be abandoned off-shore oil platforms, than along pristine section of our coastline. If US can build Trans-Atlantic cable, then surely technology exists to site wind turbines off-shore.

7thGenRanger (anonymous profile)
November 1, 2012 at 9:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Never accuse the enviros of logical thought. They just say no to everything. Caves and campfires, anyone?

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
November 1, 2012 at 10:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I remember solar panel discussions out in Carizo Plains area. Nope, can't do that...impacts native plants. My question is .....where the hell do you put wind farms, solar panels or tide generators that are out of the way and don't have some type of impact?

Ethan, your lack of fair reporting is showing. But then again, the Independent was never what one would call impartial.

BeachFan (anonymous profile)
November 1, 2012 at 11:18 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"Wind turbines would be visible from Jalama Beach Park to La Purisma Mission"

Your point being? Look- I was born in SB, and literally grew up at La Purisima Mission (my dad was a ranger, and I lived there until I was 18), and viewsheds are critically important for me. That said, I, for one, would rather take concrete, achievable steps to help decrease dependence on fossil fuels, than bicker forever around who is willing to look at turbines.

We all have to make choices, and this is one that makes a great deal of sense.

Your argument is flimsy to to the point of silliness, and you're engaging in the laziest form of "not in my backyard"-ism.

Regards,

jb

verve825 (anonymous profile)
November 1, 2012 at 12:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Never accuse the enviros of logical thought." @JohnLocke

Are environmentalists a homogeneous group?

Kingprawn (anonymous profile)
November 1, 2012 at 1:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Undoubtedly not, but one is judged by the company one keeps. Mostly when one reads of the concerns and actions ascribed to "the environmentalists" it is regarding blocking or protesting something, as opposed to coming up with progressive solutions. Hence, be against drilling but also against the actual construction of something to replace oil.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
November 1, 2012 at 2:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Beach Fan, et al.: I work for the Environmental Defense Center. We are not opposed to (or blocking) the project. Near its outset, we proposed several mitigation measures to protect wildlife species from construction impacts and project operations. These mitigation measures/conditions were wrapped into the project plans prior to approval, and we had/have no remaining objections to the project moving forward. The lawsuits mentioned in Ethan's article were filed by neighboring landowners. Thumbs up for wind power!

nathanalley (anonymous profile)
November 1, 2012 at 3:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Commenters - get your facts straight - the wind farm is being challenged in court only by COLABite attorney Richard Adams (Brother of the supervisorial candidate Peter Adams, Adams Brothers Farms who unsuccessfully sued the county over wetland delineation years ago). And has been rejected at every turn, so sounds like he really doesn't have a meritorious environmental case or even genuine environmental issues. Sounds like EDC, using the public review process, helped make the project better. But that is old news.
Siting new renewable power plants like this is tricky - some sites are better than others, and some sites are just not appropriate at all, even though there are environmental benefits. It takes some careful study.
But the impediment the Lompoc facility and other renewable projects face is uncertain economics, as these projects need subsidy themselves to compete with heavily subsidized and externalized fossil fuel power sources. Congress has been downright ignorant when it comes to thinking ahead about our future on the planet and shifting to sustainable power sources. Hurricane Sandy provides an example of some of the externalized costs of carbon based electricity that will now be paid in disrupted lives, severe economic costs, and higher insurance premiums, among many.
Bring on the renewable power, but do it right. We in the environmental community all looked pretty carefully at the Lompoc project, helped make it the best it could be, and it was approved expeditiously. The mysterious John Locke should look in the mirror and see if his own political allies are in fact to blame for the delays reported by Mr. Stewart. But I'm not expecting an apology or retraction.

Marc_Chytilo (Marc Chytilo)
November 1, 2012 at 4:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"one is judged by the company one keeps" @JohnLocke

If @nathanalley's statement above is true and land owners are indeed responsible for the lawsuits, then, by your logic, land owners and/or people who associate land owners are to blame. It's a no brainer really because we all know that all land owners share identical belief systems.

Kingprawn (anonymous profile)
November 1, 2012 at 4:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thank you for the clarification on the turbines in Lompoc. Since you do read the comments, please state for the record here Marc and Nathan the EDC's objections to Carrizo Plains project.

BeachFan (anonymous profile)
November 1, 2012 at 4:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

So Beach Fan, John Adams, and John Locke, you guys (or gals) come off here as idiots who spout off without knowing your facts.Otherwise, you are just common conservative liars. The only objection to this project has been from redneck, Republican, NIMBYs. It is fair game to question whether or not wind power is an appropriate and efficient part of our electrical power grid. However, spouting nonsense and lies to support your arguments is out of bounds. To quote the venerable Patrick Moynihan, "You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own set of facts."

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
November 1, 2012 at 8:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Actually, I knew the landowners aka NIMBYs) had protested this; I thought that was already settled and then the EDC stepped in. Just had my timing backward, as opposed to not knowing my facts.

Are all NIMBYs redneck Republicans?

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
November 2, 2012 at 9:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Marc_C, two points:

1) Actually, it's not Adams (attorney and supervisorial candidate) with an "s" but Adam, as in the Adam Family (their creepy and their spooky, etc.; and yes, I realize that is from the Addams Family).

2) Are you sure it's Colabites and not Colabians? We only have Andy's word from a Board hearing that it is the former, but who knows what they do in secret!

discoboy (anonymous profile)
November 2, 2012 at 10:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"Are all NIMBYs redneck Republicans?" @JohnLocke

Exactly my point.

Kingprawn (anonymous profile)
November 2, 2012 at 11:38 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Beach Fan - I speak only for myself, but from what I've seen of your comments, you're pretty biased against anything EDC says or does, so I myself couldn't justify putting the time in to answer your question. I'm sure you'd allege another vast left-wing wing conspiracy based on one comment out of context. But its all public record.
But tell me, what's wrong with using your real name and owning your comment? The First amendment protects your right to free speech, so the black helicopters won't come after you.
JohnLocke - your response is hilarious - got the facts wrong about timing of events that didn't exist and you claim that this isn't getting the facts wrong. Made my day. BTW, What's your excuse for hiding your identity?

Marc_Chytilo (Marc Chytilo)
November 2, 2012 at 2:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"The First amendment protects your right to free speech" @Marc_Chytilo

True. But it doesn't protect you from crazy people.

Some people take what is said here way too seriously. I've received emails through this site in response to my comments that seemed to be coming from a place of extreme anger.

I personally don't want people to know my name because I want to be in control of when and where the conversation happens.

Kingprawn (anonymous profile)
November 2, 2012 at 2:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Just for record JohnLocke, I do not believe that all NIMBYs are redneck Republicans. It just so happens that the NIMBYs that oppose this project are conservative land owners who would normaly support the free use of one's property but want the government to intervene when they don't like their neighbor's free use of property. People who do not believe that government should regulate the private use of land but then use government process to attempt to control the private use of their neighbor's property are being hypocritical. That was my point.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
November 2, 2012 at 8:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Never accuse the enviros of logical thought. They just say no to everything. Caves and campfires, anyone?"
-- JohnLocke

How sad. I remember the good old days when you actually had a coherent contribution to make.

SezMe (anonymous profile)
November 2, 2012 at 8:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I wonder if it would cost the taxpayers less if the oil drilling subsidies were eliminated rather than extending the wind subsidies?

Would it put the cost of wind and solar closer to parity with oil?

Would this approach satisfy the Republicians feelings toward budget reduction while satisfying the Democrats feelings about pushing solar and wind costs below that of oil?

passagerider (anonymous profile)
November 3, 2012 at 1:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Everyone needs to understand that no one solution is best for energy. The current administration is the real roadblock along with those who have the $ and influence to keep projects like this at bay with excuses with very little merit. We as Californians need to support all forms of energy production to get us out of the economic and energy predicament that we are all in. If the oil companies alone were allowed to drill then Ca. would be out of the red and in the black in a year providing thousands of jobs. Add the renewables then that would increase those numbers. And no new taxes! Free enterprise is what our nation was built on but now California has become the entitlement state where many do not choose wants to work even the illegals

windtech (anonymous profile)
January 8, 2013 at 5:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Depending on only one source of energy is foolish. Most people don't just eat one food item and nothing else.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 8, 2013 at 5:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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