Lompoc Wind Energy
[Web page updated 05/17/2013]
On January 22, 2013, Pacific Renewable Energy Generation (PREG) received approval by the Director of Planning and Development for a second two-year time extension of the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for the Project due to economic hardship. The Director’s approval was appealed by a nearby resident on February 1, 2013. The Planning Commission denied the appeal and approved the time extension in a public hearing on May 15, 2013. The agenda and staff report are posted on the Planning Commission web site at:
Other recent and ongoing activities associated with the Project are:
- PREG applied for a two-year time extension of its Land Use Permit for the meteorological towers associated with the Project. The permit was extended to February 10, 2015, by the Director of P&D on March 19, 2013.
- PREG is currently working on applications for permits from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Game, and other agencies, as well as mitigation plans required by the County Conditional Use Permit.
- The necessary geotechnical studies for access roads and wind turbines were completed in spring 2011.
- Preliminary grading plans were reviewed by County P&D, Building & Safety Division in 2011.
- The County Board of Architectural Review (Central Region) in a public hearing on August 12, 2011 granted Preliminary Approval of the project. The CBAR Minutes are posted on the P&D website.
PREG is working to finalize detailed project plans and is working with County staff, California Department of Fish and Game, and other agencies to obtain permits and implement the required mitigation measures for environmental impacts of construction. The mitigation program to implement the conditions of the approved Conditional Use Permit is summarized in the Environmental Quality Assurance Plan (EQAP). Detailed mitigation plans will be reviewed prior to construction.
Once all required plans have been approved, P&D will review the project (Phase I) to ensure the detailed plans are consistent with the approved Conditional Use Permit and EIR. If found consistent, the Director of P&D would approve a Substantial Conformity Determination and P&D staff would issue an appealable Land Use Permit for Phase I of the project. P&D Building and Safety would then review and approve final grading and building plans, and construction could begin, subject to permits and approvals from other agencies. The EQAP document will serve as the basis for implementing and enforcing the mitigation program during and after construction.
The project applicant is Pacific Renewable Energy Generation LLC (PREG), a subsidiary of Acciona Energy North America Corporation. PREG filed an application for a Major Conditional Use Permit on February 21, 2006, for a wind energy project, to be located on the wind-swept ridges south of Lompoc, adjacent to Vandenberg AFB. This would be the first major wind energy project in the County and will provide a significant source of alternative energy. The project is situated entirely inland of the County’s Coastal Zone. The southern project boundary abuts the Coastal Zone boundary along the Vandenberg Air Force Base property line. The wind farm and power line will be located in the County’s 3rd Supervisorial District, except the final stretch of the power line will cross into the 4th District just south of the Lompoc City limit.
The wind farm, as permitted, would consist of up to 65 wind turbines, each standing 389-397 feet high, including blades. The project may be constructed in up to three phases over seven years. The currently proposed plan for Phase I of project development is to erect thirty-seven 1.5 MW wind turbines (WTGs) located on the southern and central areas of the project site. Up to 28 additional WTGs may be proposed for subsequent project phases at a later date. Total electric generation capacity will be up to 97.5 megawatts, enough to power over 40,000 households. The power output will be sold to PG&E through a long-term power purchase agreement. A new power line will run from the project site to connect into an existing power line near PG&E’s Cabrillo Substation at the southwest corner of Lompoc. The wind turbines will be located on agriculturally-zoned grazing land (10 parcels; 2,950 acres), under 30-year lease agreements with the landowners. Existing gravel/dirt roads on the properties will be widened and some new roads constructed. Plans include an operations and maintenance building and an electrical substation on the project site.
The project chronology is outlined below. It provides links to the EIR and other project documents.
Typical Landscape at Proposed
Wind Farm in
Similar Setting (Spain)
- February 21, 2006 – Application
filed for Major Conditional Use Permit.
- May 24, 2006 – The Santa Barbara
County Planning Commission held a Conceptual
Review hearing on the project. Staff
gave a brief
overview , followed by a presentation
by Michelle Conway of Acciona
Wind Energy USA LLC. The staff’s
report for the hearing includes the
applicant’s project description
and a site map. It is available at
Commission web site.
were heard from the Community Environmental
Council, two City of Lompoc representatives,
a project parcel owner, a project neighbor,
and a Lompoc resident. Most speakers
were supportive of the project, but
identified a number of concerns, including:
a) possible viewshed impacts from the Lompoc
Valley; b) transmission line route; c)
ground water resources; and d) impacts
to Frick Springs, which is part of Lompoc’s
The Commission took no action, as this
was a conceptual review hearing. The
Commissioners’ comments were generally
favorable and supportive of the project
proceeding to further review, while recognizing
that potential environmental impacts
have yet to be studied. Staff was urged
to proceed with environmental review
as soon as possible. The Commissioners’ comments
during the hearing are summarized in
- June 1, 2006 – The permit
application was found complete for
- June 2, 2006 – The project
was reviewed by the County’s
Agricultural Preserve Advisory Committee,
as the project properties are under
Agricultural Preserve Contracts. The
Committee determined the project to
be consistent with the Uniform Rules
for Agricultural Preserves.
- June 30, 2006 – A Notice
of Preparation (NOP) was filed
with the State Clearinghouse. The
NOP initiated the Environmental Impact
Report ( EIR) preparation process.
- July 17, 2006 – An EIR Scoping
Meeting was held at Lompoc City Council
Chambers. Following a presentation
by County staff, members of the public
spoke about a number of potential adverse
impacts of the project, including bird
mortality from turbine operation and
visual impacts from turbines and power lines. Several
speakers described beneficial impacts.
- August 15, 2006 – The contract
for preparation of the EIR was approved
by the Santa Barbara County Board of
Supervisors. The consultant was selected
cooperatively by the Project Applicant
and the County.
- July 17, 2007 – Draft Environmental
Impact Environmental Report (EIR) released.
Public comment period began. The entire Draft
EIR is available for public review.
Copies are available for review in
Santa Barbara County Planning and
Development (P&D) offices and
several public libraries.
The Draft EIR identifies potential environmental
impacts, mitigation measures, residual
impacts and monitoring requirements.
It documents that the Project could have
significant short-term, construction
impacts in the following areas: Visual
Resources, Air Quality, Biological Resources,
Cultural Resources, Fire Hazards/Emergency
Services, Geology/Soils, Land Use, Noise,
Paleontological Resources, Risk/Safety,
Traffic/Circulation, and Water Resources.
The Project could also have significant
long-term, operational impacts to Visual
Resources, Biological Resources, Fire
Hazards/Emergency Services, Land Use,
Noise, Risk/Safety, and Water Resources.
Most of the environmental impacts would
be reduced to less than significant through
implementation of mitigation measures
proposed by the Project Applicant and
other measures proposed by the County.
However, long-term operational impacts
to Visual Resources and Biological Resources
would remain significant and unavoidable.
Significant visual impacts would include
views of wind turbines from Jalama Beach
County Park and of the proposed new power
line along Highway 1 near Lompoc. The visual
impacts of the power line could be reduced
to less than significant by means of an
Applicant-proposed alternative route. Potential
for protected bird and bat species to be
killed through collisions with wind turbine
blades is found to be an unavoidable significant
impact to Biological Resources.
The Project’s significant and
adverse effects should be considered
in light of its beneficial effects. Beneficial
effects include generation of 80 to 120
megawatts of alternative energy and support
for continuing agricultural use of the
- August 6, 2007 – Public
workshop on Draft EIR held in
- August 30, 2007 – Public
comment hearing on Draft EIR held in
Lompoc. Comments were presented by
eleven members of the public, organizations
and agencies. While most comments were
supportive of wind energy, concerns
were raised about the adequacy of the
draft EIR analysis in several issue
areas, including of potential impacts
to biological and visual resources,
and effects on local residents.
- September 4, 2007 – Close
of public comment period. Late submittals
were accepted from California Department
of Fish and Game (CDFG) and U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Twenty-nine
written comments were received. Comments
from the Audubon Society, Environmental
Defense Center, CDFG and USFWS center
on potential impacts to biological
resources, particularly birds. Comments
from California Department of Parks
and Recreation include concerns about
visual impacts on La Purisima Mission.
Comments from PG&E and California
Public Utilities Commission focus mainly
on jurisdictional questions relating
to the proposed power line from the
project site to Lompoc. Other issue
areas discussed in the comments include
visual impacts, noise, archeological
resources, traffic, impact on emergency
services, and effects on local residents.
- February 26, 2008 – New contract
approved for Aspen Environmental Group
to prepare the final EIR.
- May 6 – 20, 2008 – Partial recirculation of Visual Resources section of draft EIR. The following documents are available: Notice of availability, Cover letter for recirculated section, Revised draft Aesthetic/Visual Resources section.
- September 5, 2008 – Proposed Final EIR released. The following documents are available on this website: Announcement of Availability; Proposed Final EIR. (Note that the proposed final EIR and the final EIR are the same, except that the final EIR includes the section entitled “Modifications to FEIR Adopted Prior to Certification.)
- September 30, 2008 – Planning Commission hearing. The hearing notice is posted on this site. The Planning Commission voted unanimously to certify the EIR and to approve the Conditional Use Permit and associated Variance. The Commission adopted modifications to the EIR, as provided in Attachment F to the staff report prepared for this hearing. The final permit conditions, including modifications made during the hearing, are provided in the Planning Commission Action Letter for the September 30 hearing. (Note that the EIR and permit conditions were further modified prior to final approval by the Board of Supervisors.) The public comment letters for this hearing and errata submitted before the hearing are posted at the Planning Commission website.
The all-day hearing was well attended. During the public comment period 37 people spoke, most expressing strong support for the project. Significant adverse impacts of the project were raised and discussed. Property owners adjacent to the project site expressed concern about noise and visual impacts. Representatives of the environmental community, including Environmental Defense Center and Audubon Society, asked the Commission to consider more stringent protections, monitoring, and mitigation measures for birds and bats, which may be killed by the wind turbines. The Commission approved the project with minor modifications to the proposed bird mortality monitoring program and project decommissioning provisions. The CEQA findings of approval include a Statement of Overriding Considerations that project approval is warranted, notwithstanding that not all significant environmental impacts can be fully mitigated.
The hearing was televised live and recorded by the County government TV station. DVD copies can be purchased from CSBTV. The hearing is posted in 6 parts on the CSBTV Archives site.
Please follow the links to the staff report, proposed final conditions of approval, and Proposed Final EIR. The public comment letters for this hearing are posted at the Planning Commission website.
- October 9-10, 2008 – Project Appeal. The Planning Commission's certification of the EIR and approval of the project was appealed to the County Board of Supervisors. Separate appeals were filed by the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) and George and Cheryl Bedford. The appeal hearings were docketed on the Board of Supervisors meeting agenda for December 16, 2008 (Departmental Agenda Items #8 and 9). Please see the Hearing Notice. At the December 16 Board meeting the project applicant and representatives of CDFG requested a continuance of the CDFG appeal hearing, because the parties expect to resolve the appeal issues through negotiations, which have been fostered by the County’s facilitated negotiation process. The Applicant also requested a continuance of the Bedford appeal hearing, to continue working to resolve issues raised by the Bedfords and also because the two appeals are interrelated. The Board voted to continue both hearings to February 10, 2009. Links to the Board Letters and other documents for these hearings are provided in the Agenda. The links are labeled File Reference No. 08-01014 and File Reference No. 08-010062, under Departmental Items 8 and 9, respectively. A video recording of the February 10 hearing is also posted on the Board’s website.
- February 10, 2009 – The Final EIR was certified and the Conditional Permit approved by the Board of Supervisors. The approved permit conditions are included in the Board Action Letter.
- A CEQA lawsuit was filed in Superior Court in 2009 by George and Cheryl Bedford. The petition claimed that the certified final EIR was inadequate on several grounds and that the project was improperly approved by the Board of Supervisors. The trial court denied the petition. The petitioners appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court ruling and that affirmation was final as of February 2, 2012. Information about the case is posted on the Court of Appeals website (2nd District, 6th Division, Case #B228958) at: [http://appellatecases.courtinfo.ca.gov/search/case/mainCaseScreen.cfm?dist=2&doc_id=1962524&div=6&doc_no=B228958]
- June 30, 2009 – A zoning clearance was issued to increase the height of two existing meteorological (“met”) towers, as provided for in the EIR.
- September 23, 2009 – A Land Use Permit was approved for minor modifications of the project description concerning scheduled removal of temporary met towers and the height, location, and number of permanent met towers. Approval was based on a Substantial Conformity Determination approved by the Director of P&D. An EIR addendum was adopted to reflect the changes, which will not create any additional environmental impacts. George and Cheryl Bedford appealed issuance of the Land Use Permit to the Planning Commission and then to the Board of Supervisors. The Board denied the appeal and granted final approval of the Land Use Permit (7/15/09). The appeal record is posted on the Board of Supervisors web site (see 7/15/09 agenda, Departmental Item 7, File Reference 09-00754).
- March 24, 2010 – The Final Environmental Quality Assurance Plan (EQAP) submitted.
- November 24, 2010 – A two-year time extension for the CUP was approved by the P&D Director. The CUP expiration date is February 10, 2013.
- August 12, 2011 – The Project received Preliminary Approval from the County Board of Architectural Review (Central Region).
- December 12, 2011 – A second Land Use Permit was approved for minor modifications of the project description concerning the number, locations, heights, and scheduled removal dates of temporary and permanent met towers. The public notice is posted here.
- November 15, 2012 – An application for a second two-year time extension of the Conditional Use Permit for the project was filed. The applicant requests a two-year time extension to February 10, 2015. The Notice of Pending Action is posted here.