Tehachapi Citizens for Responsible Energy Development 0

Kern County Residents need more info & time to address Wind Resource Map

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We, the residents and organizations of East Kern County, write this letter in anticipation of the Board’s upcoming consideration of the proposed “Wind Resource Area Map”. Our purpose is to advise you that concern is growing on the part of many constituents that the County is moving at unacceptable speed on this issue; there is insufficient time for voters to assess what changes will most benefit East Kern in the future. A more careful, judicious approach will allow you and your colleagues to be more responsive to the studied consideration of residents. Specifically, we set forth the following concerns: • The very language employed in this proposal is fundamentally flawed. We believe that the foundational goal should be protection of residents, irreplaceable land assets, and our distinct cultural character, not promotion of dedicated space from which large energy entities can extract development opportunities. It is a given that East Kern County offers one of the most favorable and potentially valuable areas for alternative energy advancement. It is not a given that this advancement should proceed without due consideration for the lifestyle, health, property values, and overall character of our communities. No current or future industrial energy scheme should take precedence over the distinctive values offered by the East Kern area. • Accordingly, we also believe that the proposal to define “wind resource areas” should be expanded to “industrial energy areas.” The boundaries needed to filter out wind development intrusion must also limit the encroachment of solar farms and other future energy development projects. Again, we believe the emphasis should lie in a boundary to protect, not a boundary to gobble up more space for development. • The need for additional assessment time rests upon two assumptions we share. First, government action is wisest when it embraces gradual, organic, fact-based change over sudden, ideologically-driven, revolutionary change. As Edmund Burke, the great British statesman put it, “A disposition to preserve, and an ability to improve, taken together, would be my standard of a statesman.” We need to slow down and remain unblinking in the face of political, economic, and ideological pressure, from Washington, D.C. or Sacramento. Second, while the Board and Planning Department are tasked with the daily responsibility of considering these issues, and can devote intense study, your constituents are busy raising families, paying mortgages, and working at jobs in a worsening economy. Their collective energies and duties are more divided; therefore, in order to devote the time necessary for thorough education on this critical issue, we need a significant delay. This delay should not take into consideration any protestations by turbine developers regarding their own financing deadlines. • Once we know where the boundary exists beyond which industrial energy development cannot proceed – ‘thus far and no farther” – there will exist an agreed-upon set of lawful, geographical guidelines, a benefit to developers, planners, public officials, and residents. Identifying boundaries will promote more accurate planning, for residents and politicians. And it will put an end to the current intolerable situation, because of which giant wind turbines lumber over every landscape in sight like monsters from a bad science fiction film, immune from opposition and out of control. We need to end this fast tracked invasion now. Project proponents have months of time putting together their reports while the public is given only weeks to voice their concerns. • There are a number of critical questions which demand to be answered. As giant wind turbines and residential properties never enjoy a good marriage, what will planners do to assure that the distance of turbines from East Kern homes will not devastate property values? In light of mounting evidence that habitats and flight paths of California Condors and Golden Eagles are under threat from wind turbine technology, we need assurances that the Tehachapi area will not become known less as the Land of the Four Seasons and more as the killer of these magnificent, protected species. • In this connection, we need to forge an identified boundary which will encompass all unincorporated areas and towns, with a view toward protecting current property values. Also, all County public access roads should have a protective boundary around them for safety for people with disabilities. • Our initial efforts regarding the proposed boundary area has brought us into contact with a number of people and organizations in the aviation industry. They also have expressed grave concerns regarding the unbridled encroachment of turbine development. Therefore, being responsive to their concerns, we believe that all airports should be identified on the map along with their protected zone of influence. Existing transmission lines should be shown. The decisions we make will have profound implications for private aviation, search and rescue, firefighting and, given the proximity of Edwards AFB, military training and operations. • As to proposed transmission lines, any future map arising out of this comprehensive study should clearly indicate transmission lines, access roads for power plants, substation locations, and all related infrastructure. Knowing the professionalism and skill of our County Planning Department, we know that projected development plans certainly have been documented with good indications where these features will be located, probably within a fraction of a degree. Routine construction industry standards demand that, years before actual implementation, the conceptual design for all future development aspects must be submitted, studied, permitted, and approved before proceeding to subsequent phases. Public access to this information is absolutely critical. Nothing in this letter should be construed as mindless opposition to alternative energy, solar farms, or wind turbine development. At the same time, the residents of Boron, California City, Kelso Valley, Rosamond, Tehachapi, Sand Canyon, Twin Oaks, Walker Basin, and other areas in East Kern demand and deserve the kind of judicious, careful, analytical treatment of their concerns that you have proven you can give throughout your career

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