After more than an hour of discussion, the board voted 4-0 with one abstention to approve its own resolution supporting Sen. Juan Vargas’ state resolution.
Mexico negatively impacts construction jobs and the renewable energy industry in Imperial County.
While some directors — board President Stella Mendoza and Vice President John Pierre Menvielle — had initially voiced protest over the resolution, both voted for the resolution, along with Directors Jim Hanks and Matt Dessert.
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Director Anthony Sanchez was the abstaining vote, saying he didn’t think the board should take a position on the project, especially since the district voted to buy power from Mexico, too. It was essentially a no vote, he said.
Hanks said he understands Mexico needs the jobs created with the wind farm, but so does Imperial County.
“We need to help ourselves right now,” he said. “For every megawatt (created there), there’s going to be a megawatt lost here.”
Proponents of the transmission line to the Energia Sierra Juarez project denied job losses.
The project shouldn’t have an impact on Imperial County, said Scott Crider, director of external affairs for Sempra Generation, the group developing the transmission line.
“If this project were to go away tomorrow, it would not result in one job in Imperial County,” he said.
Ultimately it will allow the state and San Diego Gas & Electric to move toward the state-mandated renewable energy goal by moving clean wind power to San Diego, he said.
Christina Luhn, director of the Mega Region initiative to market San Diego County, Imperial County and Baja California as one region, said adding more renewables to the region brings it closer to drawing the long-term jobs, like the supply and manufacture of renewable energy equipment.
Arkie Mayes, Imperial County Building Trades secretary-treasurer and business manager, disagreed. “We cannot afford to outsource even one job, much less five years of work in the Valley.
“Right now we all need to be working together to bring renewable energy generating jobs to the Valley,” he said.
Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at email@example.com or 760-337-3441.