Groundbreaking wind farm project moves forward in Santa Barbara County

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A groundbreaking wind farm project is approved in Santa Barbara County, but the controversy surrounding it is just beginning

With a vote of 4-0, the county Board of Supervisors approved to move forward with a wind turbine project. It would include up to 65 wind turbine generators.

This is the first “green” and renewable power generating facility in the county’s history. The project, proposed by Acciona Wind Energy USA, can provide electricity to as many as 40,000 homes.

Supporters are excited, but some do not want to look up in the sky and see the nearly 400-foot-tall turbines in their backyard.

George Bedford lives on a 425-acre property on San Miguelito Canyon in Lompoc, a quiet countryside ranch he has owned since the early 1990s. But his view may soon change.

The wind farm will stretch over about 3,000 acres near Vandenberg Air Force Base and surround Bedford’s ranch.

“We’re opposed to the way the wind farm’s going up here and the technology they’re using. These things are mammoth,” Bedford said.

On top of that, he worries about noise from the turbines, disruption to the environment, and decrease in property value. The board denied his appeal. His next step? The legal system.

“If this was being proposed for the Gaviota Coast or Hollister Ranch, we wouldn’t even had had the discussion. I will guarantee you the South Coast would have killed this immediately,” Bedford said.

On the other side, supporters say this project mean good things for Lompoc.

“It’s a move we have to make if we are going to be a nation and a county of clean energy, and working towards being self-sufficient,” said Dave Cross, vice president of the Committee to Improve North County.

Not to mention: jobs and revenue for the area.

“Finally, Santa Barbara County is stepping forward with this and I think it’s a great move,” Cross said.

It is a green project for the future, but one that Bedford says leaves his family forgotten in the wind.

Fish and Game also filed an appeal, but withdrew it. An agreement with Acciona gave Fish and Game some protected property and $50,000.

Construction could begin as soon as next year.

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