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Southeast Idaho officials approve wind energy farm

Construction of a 150-turbine wind farm on 20,000 acres along Wolverine Canyon has been approved by Bingham County commissioners. The unanimous vote Monday to approve the plan by Ridgeline Energy LLC disappointed opponents who say the 490-foot turbines will be a blight on the scenic southeastern Idaho canyon, a popular recreation area south of Idaho Falls. ...Frank VanderSloot, owner of Melaleuca Inc. and a landowner in the area, said opponents are evaluating their options, including legal action.

Construction of a 150-turbine wind farm on 20,000 acres along Wolverine Canyon has been approved by Bingham County commissioners.

The unanimous vote Monday to approve the plan by Ridgeline Energy LLC disappointed opponents who say the 490-foot turbines will be a blight on the scenic southeastern Idaho canyon, a popular recreation area south of Idaho Falls.

Commissioner Wayne Brower said those concerns were considered in making a tough decision that he said gave him heartburn, but the need for renewable energy won out.

"The opportunity for renewable energy is a positive," Brower said.

The completed project would produce enough electricity to light about 300,000 homes.

Brower said the project had been carefully examined by the county's planning and zoning board, which recommended approval last month.

Rich Rayhill, vice president of Ridgeline Energy, said the company will begin negotiating with utilities for sale of the wind-generated electricity.

"This opens the door for us with the power companies," he told the Post Register.

Peggy Stolworthy, a rancher who owns the 9,000 acres where the turbines would be located, said royalty payments will help her keep cattle on the land.

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Construction of a 150-turbine wind farm on 20,000 acres along Wolverine Canyon has been approved by Bingham County commissioners.

The unanimous vote Monday to approve the plan by Ridgeline Energy LLC disappointed opponents who say the 490-foot turbines will be a blight on the scenic southeastern Idaho canyon, a popular recreation area south of Idaho Falls.

Commissioner Wayne Brower said those concerns were considered in making a tough decision that he said gave him heartburn, but the need for renewable energy won out.

"The opportunity for renewable energy is a positive," Brower said.

The completed project would produce enough electricity to light about 300,000 homes.

Brower said the project had been carefully examined by the county's planning and zoning board, which recommended approval last month.

Rich Rayhill, vice president of Ridgeline Energy, said the company will begin negotiating with utilities for sale of the wind-generated electricity.

"This opens the door for us with the power companies," he told the Post Register.

Peggy Stolworthy, a rancher who owns the 9,000 acres where the turbines would be located, said royalty payments will help her keep cattle on the land.

Stan Hawkins, who opposes the project, called the decision "very shortsighted."

"I think there's a huge downside for Bingham County in term of tax revenues and the destruction of that area," Hawkins said.

Frank VanderSloot, owner of Melaleuca Inc. and a landowner in the area, said opponents are evaluating their options, including legal action.

"(Commissioners) decided that the issue would just be decided in court anyway, so they decided to just vote on it and get it over with," Hawkins said. "That's a cheap way out."


Source: http://www.agweekly.com/art...

AUG 5 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/16356-southeast-idaho-officials-approve-wind-energy-farm
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