A public meeting will take place Thursday to gather comments about the environmental analysis for a revived commercial wind energy project near Lompoc after the document identified a number of significant and unavoidable impacts.

The Strauss Wind Energy Project’s (SWEP) Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report was released in late April with comments due June 7. 

The meeting to collect public comments will start at 6 p.m. at the Lompoc City Council Chambers, 100 Civic Center Plaza.

The 102-megawatt project, capable of supplying electricity to approximately 44,000 homes, is proposed for land 4.2 miles south of Lompoc, and is similar to the approved-but-never built Lompoc Wind Energy Project (LWEP).

The site in San Miguelito Canyon encompasses 2,790 acres of rural, agriculturally zoned land

The Strauss project calls for 30 wind turbine generators up to 492 feet tall; a new 7.3-mile, 115-kilovolt transmission line to interconnect with the Pacific Gas and Electric Company grid; an approximate 1-acre substation; an approximate 1.4-acre switchyard; and an operations and maintenance building.

The applicant also has proposed widening of 16.1 miles of existing roads and building 14.3 miles of new roads.

The original proposal included 65 wind-tower generators, but Strauss has suggested fewer but taller towers.

The analysis has identified a number of significant and unavoidable impacts, including unknown numbers of special status and non-sensitive birds and bats at risk of dying due to collision with the wind tower generators.

Those towers also would be visible from several areas, including Jalama Beach County Park, while FAA-required hazard lighting could result in adverse night time light impacts, according to the report.

The new environmental report cites concerns about removal of oak trees, something not listed as a worry in the original project. 

“The reason SWEP would have significant impacts to trees, whereas the LWEP would not, is due to differences in design and layout of the two projects. “

The report suggested modifying the project to eliminate two towers to save hundreds of oak trees. This would reduce tree loss from approximately 607 to 225 and eliminate the loss of 81 trees in the Coastal Zone.

Potential noise impacts from the operation would be minimized “to the extent feasible” through implementation of mitigation measures such as a telephone number for noise complaints, wind-tower generator maintenance, and a noise complaint resolution plan, the document said.

The report also assessed if the wind farm could interfere with Vandenberg Air Force Base operations, although the applicant has been working to ensure compliance with military requirements, and military officials confirmed the proposed wind-tower generator sites would not interfere with telemetry equipment.

However, Vandenberg and Strauss representatives executed an agreement to establish policies for evacuating the site and temporarily stopping transmission of specified towers during launch or pre-launch activities upon notice from Vandenberg.

The new analysis cited two beneficial impacts — use of renewable energy and reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions. 

The Draft Supplemental EIR can be found by clicking here, or at Planning & Development offices located at 123 E. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara or 624 Foster Road, Suite C, Santa Maria.

Draft documents are also available for review at the Lompoc Public Library, 501 E. North Ave. in Lompoc, and the Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 E. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara

In addition to the public hearing, comments may be sent by mail to the project planner, Kathy Pfeifer, 123 E. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara, CA 9310, by fax at 805.568.2522, or by email at kathypm@countyofsb.org prior to 5 p.m. on June 7

Comments at this time will be limited to environmental issues such as traffic, biology, noise and more, while consideration of the project’s approval or denial will occur at a later public hearing, county planning staff said.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Janene Scully | Noozhawk North County Editor

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com.