Campo Band of Mission Indians to develop wind energy project

SAN DIEGO, Calif. -The Campo Band of Mission Indians of the Kumeyaay Nation, Invenergy and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) announced a plan May 11 to build a wind energy project capable of generating up to 160 megawatts (MW) of renewable power.

The three parties signed a memorandum of understanding for the development of a wind project on tribal land that could offset as much as 57.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually. The project will be the tribe's second wind generation facility, further establishing the Campo Band as a leading tribal developer of renewable energy in the country and the East County San Diego region as a national model for harnessing renewable resources.

"Development of this project will expand the Campo tribe's leadership as the largest producer of clean, renewable wind energy on Indian lands in the United States," said Monique La Chappa, Campo chairwoman. "We are excited to be working with Invenergy and [SDG&E] to bring this project to reality for the benefit of our tribal members and residents of San Diego County."

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently touted wind power's potential on tribal lands, stating that Indian country offers some of the premier wind energy sites in the United States.

The project will help create a more diverse, sustainable economy and contribute revenue to essential governmental services for the tribe. During construction, the project will employ approximately 150 workers from various construction trades. Upon completion, 10-12 full time staff will be needed to operate and maintain the wind farm.

"This project represents the tip of the iceberg for renewable energy development ... [that] will spark creation of new green-collar jobs," said La Chappa.

The project is being developed by Invenergy LLC, one of the top wind development companies in North America that currently operates 2,000 MW of wind power.

"We are very proud and excited to be working with the only tribe in the nation that currently operates a wind farm development on tribal land," said Mick Baird, Invenergy's vice president of development for the region.

To meet the growing market for renewable energy projects in the East County, SDG&E also is planning a number of infrastructure enhancements projects that will help deliver renewable power into the grid while enhancing energy reliability for local residents and customers.

"This agreement is a significant step forward in our goal of achieving 33 percent of power deliveries from renewable resources by 2020," said Debra L. Reed, president and chief executive officer of SDG&E. "This partnership is a great example of how we can deliver the benefits of these renewable resources to our customers."

"SDG&E's vision ... includes investment in renewable energy projects that make sense from an economic and environmental standpoint, combined with the development of critical infrastructure to deliver that power to our customers," Reed added.

Over the next year, Muht-Hei, Inc., the Campo development corporation, in conjunction with the Campo Band Executive Committee, Campo Environmental Protection Agency and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, will finalize the terms of the agreements with Invenergy and SDG&E. Project developers will complete pre-development siting analyses, placement of testing towers to evaluate wind potential and fulfill environmental clearances prior to construction.

The project is expected to commence commercial operation in 2012.

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