By KRIS REILLY, Editor
LUCERNE VALLEY • With a pair of public relations people sitting nearby, Carey Kling stood before a roomful of local residents and gave an update on the Granite Wind energy project. The reception was mostly polite, though a bit skeptical.
Kling is a development manager for Renewable Energy Systems Americas, a division of a United Kingdom-based company which is overseeing Granite Wind. Kling’s presentation in front of about 40 people at the Lucerne Valley Economic Development Association meeting on Jan. 5 promised that the project would not look like Palm Springs or Tehachapi.
The 28 turbines would sit on roughly 2,000 acres of federal land and about 640 acres of private land in the mountains in the northwest area of town.
The presentation claimed that roughly $12 million would be generated for local businesses during construction and as much as $15 million would be generated in county tax revenue during the life of the project.
The $15 million assumes that the project would be operational for 30 years. The company’s current contract with Southern California Edison lasts only 20 years.
The presentation also stated that the project would provide power for 70,000 to 90,000 residents. Jim Harvey of the Alliance for Responsible Energy Policy said during the meeting that those numbers are “not even close.”
Kling said in a phone interview on Monday that she was still checking on the estimates but believed that they were accurate.
Betty Munson of the Johnson Valley Improvement Association also criticized the estimates and wrote her own analysis of the presentation, which is available at johnsonvalley.com/neighborhoodnews.
Kling showed computer-generated photos of what Granite Mountain would look like. The turbines were difficult to see from the given vantage points — which were miles away from the actual turbines.
Kling said that 55 jobs would be created to build the project and that the company would hold a job fair to try to draw local workers. She said the turbines would create 16 long-term jobs, eight of which would be on site. She again said the company would try to hire qualified locals if possible.
Ernie Gommel of LVEDA said the eight jobs weren’t much of a selling point, noting that a local restaurant could employ about the same number of people.
Southern California Edison is planning a substation near Barstow road to accommodate this project and possibly two others.
RES Americas is in the process of putting together an environmental impact statement and hopes to release it next month. A 90-day public comment period would follow, and RES may revise its plans based on the comments.
There will be a link to the environmental impact statement at granitewind.com, Kling said.
Kris Reilly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (760) 985-8372.