After nearly a decade of planning and approvals and one pesky lawsuit, the much-ballyhooed Lompoc wind farm is dead. In a statement sent out late last week by Acciona Energy, the parent company behind the alternative-energy project, spokesperson Peter Gray announced that Acciona will not be moving forward with the wind farm despite having all of the proper permits in place. “While the area has great potential for clean energy generation, the best decision for our business is to focus on the development of other U.S. and global projects in the company’s pipeline,” said Gray.
First floated in 2006, the project aimed to put more than 60 turbines on some 2,900 acres of private property leased from a half-dozen different landowners just south of Lompoc near San Miguelito Road. Had it been realized, the farm would have been the first of its kind in Santa Barbara County and could have generated enough juice to power 30,000 homes annually. Lamenting the news, 3rd District County Supervisor Doreen Farr offered, “I still think it is a great project and a perfect location. … I’m hopeful that some other enterprising company will come along, pick it up, and move it forward in the future.”
Pressed for further insight into why his company decided to dash its wind-farm dreams, especially after receiving critical permit extensions from the county earlier this year, Gray explained that it came down to “internal priorities” for the Spain-based company. Gray scoffed at the suggestion that the repeated — and consistently denied — appeals of the project by the Bedford family, who live close to a handful of the proposed turbine sites, or the federal government’s soon-to-expire Production Tax Credit for alternative-energy projects had anything to do with Acciona’s decision. Pointing to two large projects currently in the pipes in Chile and Poland, Gray offered simply, “[Lompoc] just wasn’t the highest priority for us. Unfortunately, you just can’t do everything.”