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Local News

Energy Company Backs Out of Lompoc Wind Project

The company behind the Lompoc Wind Energy Project has backed out of its plans and will be formally withdrawing from Santa Barbara County’s planning and development process.

Acciona Energy North America’s plan for 65 wind turbines, placed on the wind-swept ridges near Vandenberg Air Force Base, has been approved for a conditional use permit by the county. The company’s subsidiary, Pacific Renewable Energy Generation, was working on permits from the federal and state Departments of Fish and Wildlife before construction began.

PREG applied for the permit in 2006, and the project would have been the county’s first wind energy project, according to county planner Kevin Drude. The power, from turbines on grazing land, would have been sold to Pacific Gas & Electric.

“We are grateful to the landowners and county officials who have supported the development of this project,” Acciona marketing and communications manager Peter Gray said. “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.”

Acciona plans to formally withdraw its plans and settle accounts with the county, and will be removing the meteorological towers placed to measure wind speed and direction, Drude said.

“It will probably be a rather easy transition, though difficult for me having spent all my time on the project. It was quite an interesting project and I was hoping it would move forward,” he said. “They do have the opportunity, if they want to, to transfer that permit over to somebody else if they’re interested, but we’ve not had anybody indicate that they’re interested.”

There are no other wind energy projects in the works, though the Planning and Development Department’s energy division is busy with a solar project in Cuyama Valley and its new duties of oversight for all onshore oil and gas projects and surface mines.

Drude believes the withdrawal is partly due to economics, since European renewable energy projects — Acciona is a Spanish company — aren’t getting the same government support they used to.

“The applicant has really been a great group to work with, very compliant and they dutifully pay invoices (for staff work) — it would have been a real pleasure,” he said.

The county will know more once the company files its official withdrawal forms. Word got out before Acciona notified the county, and Drude himself found out by news media inquiries to his office early this week.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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