Small Indian Tribe Lands Big Wind Energy Deal

6/11/09Follow @bvbigelow

A Chicago-based developer of large-scale renewable energy projects will build a 160-megawatt wind farm on the Campo Indian Reservation about 60 miles east of San Diego, under an agreement announced today.

If completed as expected by 2012, the 100-turbine facility in the Laguna Mountains will generate enough electricity during peak production for more than 100,000 homes, according to Brian Brokowski, a spokesman for San Diego Gas & Electric. Under a memorandum of understanding, Chicago’s Invenergy will build and operate the estimated $300 million facility for the 351-member Campo Band of Mission Indians of the Kumeyaay Nation, and SDG&E will purchase and distribute the electricity. The project will provide revenue for the Campo tribal government, and the tribe will get an equity stake in the wind farm.

“We are excited to be working with Invenergy and San Diego Gas & Electric to bring this project to reality for the benefit of our tribal members and residents of San Diego County,” Campo Chairwoman Monique La Chappa said in a statement.

The project will be the Campo tribe’s second wind energy facility. The band completed a 25-turbine project in 2005 that is visible to motorists along Interstate 8. In a joint statement, the three partners say the wind facility could offset as much as 57.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

While the project still must win approval from the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, it would not require state approval and sidesteps likely opposition from rural residents who live near the reservation.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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