Gringos Sue To Stop Energy Wind Farm

Mexicans profiting from it is not their concern
BY: SUE YU

Ejido people along the border were trying to scratch a living out of the rocky ridge line just south of the border. Then, they were offered money if they would allow wind mills to be erected on their land. As in about $2,000 U.S. a month. To each member of the communally held land in the ejido. They are happy campers, receiving more money than they ever imagined getting - and getting it for doing nothing. All of the electricity is sold to San Diego Gas & Electric through a cross-border transmission line. The project is part of a statewide scramble for renewable energy, as California must get half of its electricity from renewables by 2030.

To help achieve that goal, Energia Sierra Juarez plans to expand its production capacity by nearly an additional 700 percent, building hundreds of additional turbines on the mountain range. But the entire project is being challenged in court in the United States, by neighbors who don’t want the unsightly turbines, even across the border in Mexico.

One of the parties to the law suite, a retired fireman, says the wind mills are a fire threat, especially during drought. He says something is bound to go up in smoke, what with the 47 windmills, a nearly five-mile cross border transmission line, and 25 miles of new roads that service it all.

Donna Tisdale, a Boulevard California resident, says the green energy rush is on, whether it’s actually beneficial or not. She’s leading the lawsuit against Energia Sierra Juarez and the U.S. government agencies that approved the project. The lawsuit claims the project violates U.S. and California environmental laws that protect the endangered peninsular bighorn sheep, golden eagles and other wildlife on the mountain range.

The range straddles the border, and environmentalists say that even though the turbines are located on the Mexican side, environmental impacts have spread to the U.S. side as well because the two habitats are interconnected and interdependent. Defendants to the lawsuit counter that the project is completely legal because it was approved by Mexico’s national environmental agency, whose representative in Baja, Alfonso Blancafort. He says it not only meets the environmental impact requirements, it also fights climate change and helps mitigate global warming problems.

 Blancafort says Mexico is benefiting from the project, even though it’s not getting any of the electricity.

Jose Mercado, one of the ejido people who gets two grand a month for the windmills on his property, says he and his neighbors just see the cash and the present, and are not inclined to worry about anything else, much less the future, while on the U.S. side of the border Donna Tisdale continues her legal battle, saying she doesn’t blame the Mexicans for accepting the project on their land, but that she’s not inclined to worry about taking away their livelihood.