REDDING, Calif.- Today the Shasta County Board of Supervisors decided to reject the Fountain Wind Project's appeal to build a wind farm between Burney and Round Mountain in a 4-1 vote.
Supervisor Leonard Moty was the only vote against rejecting the proposal.
The project was initially rejected in June by the Shasta County Planning Commission in a unanimous 5-0 vote.
The company behind the proposal, ConnectGEN changed the scope of the Fountain Wind Project in line with concerns and recommendations from the public.
The proposed project would have been built next to the Hatchet Ridge Wind Farm which has been in service for over a decade.
Major changes include lowering the number of wind turbines from 71 to 48, reducing their height by 10%, moving the most visible turbines deeper into the forest, and creating a community impact plan to help the county and people living near the turbines among other initiatives.
ConnectGEN said their community impact plan would add $1 million to the Shasta County Sherriff’s Department, improve internet access in the area, and work with the Pit River Tribe and their work program.
While ConnectGEN says their community impact program would add a lot to the area, many people who came to the meeting from the area opposed the proposal.
“I think it’s astounding not one person from that area came here in support of the project,” said Supervisor Mary Rickert. “I think that speaks volumes.”
Supporters of the proposal pointed towards the community impact program and ConnectGEN saying the project would add 200 construction jobs, 12 permanent jobs, and $50 million in tax revenue as a huge boost for the county.
“The job of government can be instilled down to a relatively simple thing; dollars in and dollars out, said Redding City Council Member Michael Dacquisto. “And this project provides an opportunity for dollars in.”
One of the main groups against the project includes the Pit River Tribe who say the project would be made on important cultural land that would be destroyed forever.
Members of the tribe, like Radley Davis, say the land has been used for religious and spiritual purposes for hundreds of years and there is no alternative if the land is changed.
“By having the mountain top removed or a ridge removed, basically mountaintop removal will forever change that place, forever not be able to bring it back,” said Davis. “Where would we go?”
Action News Now talked to many homeowners in the area. They had many concerns including their land value possibly dropping and the natural beauty they’ve lived with for decades being destroyed.
Joy Tjaden has lived in Round Mountain for decades and is concerned that ConnectGEN is from Texas and doesn’t seem to care about dropping a wind turbine in her backyard.
“I can see that there’s money coming that would be beneficial to Shasta County as a whole, but the people that are speaking up aren’t the ones that are going to have a 600-foot turbine in their backyard,” said Tjaden. “They have no skin in the game. I’m a member of Shasta County and I want to be supportive of that too but at the same time it’s going to cost me a lot more than it’s going to cost them.”
Many people from the area were also concerned with a fire breaking out with the turbines in a heavily forested area.
While larger tankers would have a difficult time dropping with the turbines in the area, CAL FIRE said that smaller air support and ground crews would do what they could in case of a fire despite not having a lot of experience fighting fires in an area with wind turbines.