Article

Wind farm gets special use permit

HOLBROOK - Rocking Chair Ranch, 18 miles northwest of Snowflake, may soon be harvesting wind power.

At their Jan. 17 board meeting, supervisors approved a special use permit for the 7,000 acre property to allow the installation of 99 wind turbine generators (windmills). The ranch lies between state Routes 377 and 277 near the Abitibi Consolidated paper mill. Planning and Zoning Administrator Telford Chapman said approval of the permit had been unanimously recommended, with 14 stipulations, by the planning and zoning commission at their Dec. 15 meeting.

The matter was discussed in a public hearing with Chairman Jesse Thompson asking if planning and zoning had received any comments for or against the request. Billy Elkins said he was in favor because he believed it would be beneficial to the county and to the ranch.

Tom Sanders said he owned the ranch next to the proposed wind farm but he wasn't aware of where it would be.

"Arizona generates enough electric power," he said. "I have a viewshed all around me and I don't think I need a wind farm in my back yard. I generate my own electricity and I'm off the grid so it won't benefit me."

Wind Project Developer Jesse Gronner of PPM Energy addressed some of the benefits of the wind farm including the fact that... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

At their Jan. 17 board meeting, supervisors approved a special use permit for the 7,000 acre property to allow the installation of 99 wind turbine generators (windmills). The ranch lies between state Routes 377 and 277 near the Abitibi Consolidated paper mill. Planning and Zoning Administrator Telford Chapman said approval of the permit had been unanimously recommended, with 14 stipulations, by the planning and zoning commission at their Dec. 15 meeting.

The matter was discussed in a public hearing with Chairman Jesse Thompson asking if planning and zoning had received any comments for or against the request. Billy Elkins said he was in favor because he believed it would be beneficial to the county and to the ranch.

Tom Sanders said he owned the ranch next to the proposed wind farm but he wasn't aware of where it would be.

"Arizona generates enough electric power," he said. "I have a viewshed all around me and I don't think I need a wind farm in my back yard. I generate my own electricity and I'm off the grid so it won't benefit me."

Wind Project Developer Jesse Gronner of PPM Energy addressed some of the benefits of the wind farm including the fact that the land would be assessed at a higher rate, bringing in more property tax revenue to the county. He said it would cost about $30 million to install the wind farm. It will have 99 400-foot tall towers.

Supervisor J.R. DeSpain, who represents the area in which the wind farm would be located, asked if Sanders had a chance to see the design.

"We did have a power point presentation," Gronner said. "We have tried our best to get the word out there. People have had three opportunities to ask questions."

Sanders said, "It will be right on my ranch and block my view with a red light on the top (an FAA requirement). I have spent thousands to get my energy off the grid. Why do I need this in my back yard?"

When asked by DeSpain, Sanders said he had 80 acres, that he was a horse farmer and was constructing a building for 25 more horses. Asked to show on a map where his land was located he wasn't able to do so. Elkins pointed it out, saying it was about three miles from Rocking Chair Ranch.

Supervisor David Tenney asked, "If you are three miles away, do you still feel it will block your view? You say you don't want this in your back yard but when you're three miles away you wouldn't be affected by this as much as if it was 300 feet away."

Sanders said if they could verify he was three miles away, the wind farm would be fine with him. He said he had been away but when he got back he was told some of the towers would even be on his property.

DeSpain commented that in a meeting he had attended the previous week, a lot of agencies were there and one thing they were concerned about was the climate.

"The warming effect is a real thing," he said. "We are affected by higher temperatures. A large amount of carbon dioxide, which warms the atmosphere, comes from coal generators and we have a lot in Arizona. But the majority of the gases don't come from North America but from the Third World.

"I'm not saying we should eliminate coal generators because we have a need for them. The point in all this is that we need to consider alternate forms of energy production. I'm in favor of the wind farm. It adds to the grid without deterioration to the environment. If the towers are that tall, that's a lot to see. We might even see them here.

I think the viewshed is beautiful and I'm not concerned about the wind farm. I would like to see anything that would supplement our electricity without harm to the environment. And it also won't use water."

Supervisor Percy Deal said the Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation have had some discussion about putting a wind farm in their area and he would like to see what it would look like.

Gronner said if the special use permit was approved, they would like the chance to have people come and see what it looked like. Right now they have towers with meters to measure the wind, to make sure there is enough and to decide how far apart the towers should be so they don't steal wind from each other.

Once the electricity has been created, it will go into the 69-kilovolt power line that runs from Cholla Power Plant to Abitibi Consolidated. John Gaglioti of Windfinders said Cholla puts out about 1,500 megawatts at its peak but the power plant doesn't produce that all the time. Each tower in the wind farm would produce about 1.5 megawatts. One megawatt can provide power to 400 homes, he said.

Gronner said that in the future, regulations from the federal government dictate that 15 percent of electricity production has to come from renewable resources.

"If you compare megawatts to megawatts, the wind farm will not compare with Cholla but it will be a good step for using renewable resources," he said. "We have been asked if the megawatts (produced by the farm) will stay local. We might have a contract to furnish power to Phoenix but the electrons from our gird will serve the local community."

The special use permit request was unanimously approved with stipulations. These include the fact the permit is for 35 years, to expire at the end of 2041 with a chance of renewal. If the towers are out of use for 180 consecutive days or if the permit is not renewed, the project must be decommissioned by removing the improvements, grinding the foundations to three feet below existing grade and restoring the land to a condition consistent with the surrounding area.

The owners also have to train staff to treat any raptors which might be injured on the towers. They have to provide a 500-foot buffer from adjacent non-leased properties.

Before being issued any building or grading permits, a survey has to be completed regarding bat and avian studies and the employee raptor treatment training has to be done. An engineered site plan including grading and drainage has to be submitted to Public Works for review and approval.


Source: http://www.wmicentral.com/s...

JAN 20 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/1021-wind-farm-gets-special-use-permit
back to top