SHASTA COUNTY, California – After a six-hour public information meeting on Tuesday night, the California Energy Commission (CEC) believes they are better equipped to make a decision on the controversial Fountain Wind Project in eastern Shasta County.
With over 60 people speaking and sharing different perspectives on the plan, the CEC has many variables to review and consider before a final decision is made. As a reminder, the reason the CEC is now controlling the outcome of Fountain Wind is because of a new state law, AB 205. Regarding Tuesday’s gathering inside Anderson’s Gaia Hotel, the CEC says that the “democracy” is on full display.
“I think it’s great,” said Drew Bohan, executive director for CEC. “We heard a lot of views; strong views in favor of the project, strong views against the project. I got up this morning before dawn to drive up the hill and see the site myself. and goes through Burney… I understand why the people who live in that area feel so strongly about their place.”
Bohan made it clear that the CEC’s role in this project is only to learn the details and determine if the plan is feasible.
“Developers come to us with projects all over the state and it’s our job to evaluate the projects and determine if they meet the requirements of the law,” Bohan explained. “Some do, some don’t. So we’ve approved a lot, and we’ve denied a lot over the years.”
Early in Tuesday’s public comment, Shasta County announced it will sue the CEC for final authority over Fountain Wind. Supervisor Patrick Jones, who also spoke briefly during the meeting, said AB 205 is another example of state overreach. He reiterated that the matter had already been decided, twice, at the local level. Now, Chairman Jones believes that won this lawsuit is the county’s only chance to end the Fountain Wind proposal, once and for all.
“We are the elected, local, legislative body and we listen to our residents,” Jones told KRCR’s Sam Chimenti on Wednesday. “The energy commission is not elected, they are appointed. They do not represent anyone in Shasta County.”
Jones acknowledged that the lawsuit will be paid for by taxpayers, but said he is confident in the county’s chances of winning the civil case. “We had already taken action on this specific project before this legislation took place. We believe we will prevail on that, and the lawsuit is the right thing to do.”
At the end of the day, what’s the point of having a Board of Supervisors if the state is just going to replace that with a law that comes out of Sacramento?” Jones continued. “If we win, I think Sacramento will learn from this. , and it’s not only going to help Shasta County, but it’s going to help all 58 counties in this state.”
Supervisor Jones said the county is not opposed to clean energy and that they will welcome the jobs that the Fountain Wind project will create. However, Jones strongly opposed the location selection for the turbines.
“You couldn’t pick a worse area for high fuel and fire danger in the state of California,” Jones said.
The CEC has until next summer to make a decision on Fountain Wind. Because of its complex nature, Bohan told KRCR that he expects the commission to use up all the time before reaching a final verdict. He said another public meeting in Shasta County is in the works for next spring.