County takes step toward renewable energy plan

WindTurbinesOcotilloSAN DIEGO — The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 Wednesday to direct staffers to look into possible components and costs of a comprehensive renewable energy plan and to report their findings in about four months.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob said the research would put the county “at the starting gate to potentially develop a plan” and would lead to the board’s ultimate decision whether to move forward with its development.

San Diego County had worked to expand renewable energy and green building development, but it needs a comprehensive approach, according to Jacob.

“I think we’ve all come to the recognition that renewable energy projects are a growing breed and that we need a plan that contains options that will make it clear where to allow these projects and if there’s any guidelines and design criteria that need to be put in place,” Jacob said.

The potential plan would give industries and communities an idea of where renewable energy projects would be best suited, reduce costs and alleviate some of the conflicts between property owners and developers, according to Jacob.

She said the plan would not put a stop to the county’s solar ordinance or a proposed wind ordinance, scheduled to go before the board next month.

The ordinances established development standards and updated regulations in line with technological advances in each industry. But the county still considers proposed projects on a case-by-case basis, she said.

“I think we can put this piecemeal approach behind us and do better. A comprehensive plan would give us the necessary tools and would provide us with a pragmatic approach for finding the ideal locations for renewable energy facilities,” Jacob said.

Her initial proposal included integrating the proposed wind ordinance into the development of the plan, but that motion failed for lack of a second. The board voted to have staffers research what could be included.

Supervisor Dave Roberts, who dissented, said that although the comprehensive renewable energy plan was a good concept, he was concerned taking that approach at this time would limit renewable energy projects in the county.

“Government must find ways to site these projects, but assist in the production of renewable energy,” Roberts said.

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