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Albert Lopez
Planning Director
Planning

Current Development Projects


Sand Hill Wind Repowering Project - Application No. PLN2015-00198, Sand Hill Wind, LLC

Sand Hill Wind, LLC, an affiliate of Ogin Energy, Inc., has applied for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to repower (i.e., remove and replace) 433 wind turbines constructed in the 1980s and 1990s on eight parcels in the eastern portion of the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (APWRA). These turbines were acquired from SeaWest Energy Resources which operated them under five CUPs that were renewed in 2005, and are located on eight parcels in three non-contiguous areas with a total estimated area of 875 acres: a) north of Interstate I 580 about half a mile west of the Grant Line Road interchange; b) east of Mountain House Road roughly a third of a mile north of Grant Line Road; and c) east of Midway Road, about half a mile south of Interstate I-580.

The existing turbines, which had a nameplate capacity of approximately 25.4 megawatts (MW) were shut down on November 1, 2015 for the 3.5 month winter season shutdown that has been in place for the APWRA since 2008, and have remained shut down, and are in the process of being decommissioned. The CUP application as submitted in October 2015 proposed 24 large-scale wind turbines with a nameplate capacity of between 1.5 and 3.0 MWs each, thereby providing an installed capacity of between 36 and 72 MWs. The turbines being considered for the proposed project would have potential rotor diameters of 90 to 125 meters (295-410 feet), towers up to 100 meters (382 feet), and a maximum turbine height of 151 meters (495 feet). The proposal was revised in February 2016 to propose a total of only 12 new 3MW turbines, after completing a detailed siting analysis that considered setbacks from roadways, residences and high-tension power transmission lines, wetlands, avian and terrestrial biological resources, and wind resources on each specific site. The siting analysis also considered shadow flicker, noise levels, and public safety risks due to blade failure (e.g., blades disconnecting from the rotor hub) as well as cultural resources. Micro-siting using an avian risk model to avoid locations with the greatest hazards to Golden Eagles and other raptors is continuing, and will conform to practices specified in the Program EIR and be subject to review by the County's Technical Advisory Committee.

Sand Hill Wind previously applied in early 2013 for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP, PLN2013-00013) for the repowering of roughly 70-80 existing wind turbines equivalent to 4 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity with 40 shrouded wind turbines with a combined generating capacity of 4 MWs, to assess the functionality of the new turbine design and the extent to which it could reduce impacts on birds and bats compared to the existing turbines. An Environmental Impact Report (EIR), prepared for the proposal and on a programmatic basis for subsequent potential replacement of the entire wind farm (a total of 433 old generation turbines) with additional shrouded turbines under a separate CUP, was certified on March 27, 2014, and approved on May 22, 2014. Complete details on the proposal, its environmental review and approval are available at the following link: Sand Hill Wind 2013 Project - Shrouded Turbines. As a result of the EIR, it should be noted, extensive biological resource studies, including spring-time botanical surveys and terrestrial habitat assessments have been completed for the subject sites.

The current proposal for 12 new turbines was considered by the East County Board of Zoning Adjustments (EBZA) on March 24, 2016, and approved by Resolution Z-16-15. The project was considered as a specific, tiered project that is consistent with the APWRA Repowering Program EIR (PEIR) prepared and certified by the East County Board of Zoning Adjustments in November of 2014 (see APWRA Repowering link).

Pursuant to Section 15168(c) of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines, the current project was reviewed using an environmental checklist, to inform public agency decision-makers and the public of the significant environmental effects of the Sand Hill Wind project and identify possible ways to avoid or minimize such effects. The approved Resolution refers to the checklist for the purpose of verifying that the proposed CUP is in compliance with CEQA and would not result in any new significant impacts (i.e., impacts that were not previously disclosed in the PEIR). The environmental checklist, including detailed project description, maps, visual simulations, supporting biological studies, cultural resource analysis (summary only), are provided through links shown below.

Appeal by Darryl and Susan Mueller

As provided for by the County Zoning Ordinance, Section 17.54.670, an appeal may be submitted to the Board of Supervisors within ten days after the date of a Resolution by the Board of Zoning Adjustments. On March 30, 2016. Darryl and Susan Mueller submitted an appeal of the decision, which is available at the link below, together with two PowerPoint presentations that are cited in the appeal letter (and which were meant to be presented to the EBZA on March 24, 2016 but were not seen due to technical difficulties). The appeal will be heard by the Board of Supervisors at its Planning Meeting on May 10, 2016, 1:00 p.m. as provided for in the Notice also provided below.

Staff Contacts

Sandra Rivera, Assistant Deputy Director
(510) 670-6526

Andrew Young, Project Planner
(510) 670-5400


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