Plug pulled on Lompoc Wind Farm

July 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Acciona Energy has announced it will not build the Lompoc Wind Farm.

In a brief statement released Wednesday, the company said “it will not move forward with the development of the Lompoc Wind Farm.” The announcement came just seven weeks after the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission granted the company a time extension for its permits and denied an appeal from a neighboring property owner.

The project planned 65 wind turbine generators along the hilltops southeast of Vandenberg Air Force Base and was originally approved in 2008.

Acciona had leased approximately 2,950 acres of land from 10 different owners near the end of San Miguelito Road for its wind farm.

“We are grateful to the landowners and county officials who have supported the development of this project,” Acciona Communications Manager Peter Gray said in an email. “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.”

The company is among the leading wind energy developers in the world with more than 8,390 megawatts built. It has 14 operational wind farms in North America producing 621MW in the United States, 181MW in Canada and 556MW in Mexico.

Most of the domestic farms are in the Midwest in Oklahoma, Iowa, Illinois, North Dakota and South Dakota. The company also operates a wind turbine generator assembly plant in West Branch, Iowa.

The decision is another setback for the wind energy company which cut 65 jobs in the U.S., including a third of its workforce — 58 employees — at its assembly plant.

The Lompoc Wind Farm appeared to be headed toward construction as recently as May 15 when the Board of Supervisors granted a two-year time extension and denied the appeal of George and Cheryl Bedford, who own and live on property adjacent to the proposed project.

The Bedfords opposed the project since it was first proposed in 2008. They appealed the Planning Commission’s initial approval to the board in 2009. And when the supervisors upheld the commission’s decision, the case was taken to Superior Court, where a judge favored the county.

The case was appealed to the state Court of Appeals, which eventually upheld the lower court decision.

In the May Planning Commission meeting, Jason Donajkowski, project manager for Pacific Renewable Energy Generation LLC (PREG), said the company expected to complete engineering in 2014 and finish construction by 2015. PREG is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Acciona Wind Energy USA.

The project would have generated between 80MW and 120MW which had been sold to Pacific Gas Electric Co.

Kevin Drude, energy specialist with the county planning department, said it’s unfortunate Acciona has decided to halt the project because of the time and effort that have been put into it. He said the company still needs to formally withdraw its project.

“We are awaiting official word from them and what they intend to do,” he said.

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