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Washoe delays wind turbine decision

The Washoe County Planning Commission late Tuesday night delayed until Feb. 4 deciding whether to grant permits for a wind farm that would put 44 turbines on the ridges of the Pah Rah Range east of Warm Springs Valley. The continuance came after a vote to reject the project and another vote to approve the Nevada Wind project failed. At the end of the four-hour hearing, all but Commmissioner Roy Hibdon voted for the delay so that "holes" in the project could be filled in. He had favored the $190 million project.

The Washoe County Planning Commission late Tuesday night delayed until Feb. 4 deciding whether to grant permits for a wind farm that would put 44 turbines on the ridges of the Pah Rah Range east of Warm Springs Valley.

The continuance came after a vote to reject the project and another vote to approve the Nevada Wind project failed.

At the end of the four-hour hearing, all but Commmissioner Roy Hibdon voted for the delay so that "holes" in the project could be filled in. He had favored the $190 million project.

Chairwoman Christy Magers and Commissioner Roger Edwards are to work with Nevada Wind and Warm Springs Valley residents on unresolved issues.

"If we're going to be first in Nevada, we want it done right," Magers said. "There are too many unknowns."

Magers didn't get a complete answer when she asked how many truck trips the project would generate on the dirt roads through the valley dotted with homes on 40-acre lots.

Eric Weden, an engineer for the project, said it would take 1,390 trips to bring in the giant components, including 250-feet-long blades.

But Larry Johnson, a valley resident, said the project would generate 56,000 trips... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The Washoe County Planning Commission late Tuesday night delayed until Feb. 4 deciding whether to grant permits for a wind farm that would put 44 turbines on the ridges of the Pah Rah Range east of Warm Springs Valley.

The continuance came after a vote to reject the project and another vote to approve the Nevada Wind project failed.

At the end of the four-hour hearing, all but Commmissioner Roy Hibdon voted for the delay so that "holes" in the project could be filled in. He had favored the $190 million project.

Chairwoman Christy Magers and Commissioner Roger Edwards are to work with Nevada Wind and Warm Springs Valley residents on unresolved issues.

"If we're going to be first in Nevada, we want it done right," Magers said. "There are too many unknowns."

Magers didn't get a complete answer when she asked how many truck trips the project would generate on the dirt roads through the valley dotted with homes on 40-acre lots.

Eric Weden, an engineer for the project, said it would take 1,390 trips to bring in the giant components, including 250-feet-long blades.

But Larry Johnson, a valley resident, said the project would generate 56,000 trips for water trucks alone to spray water to keep down the dust on the haul route as well as at the construction sites.

"I am not in opposition," Johnson said. "We need to make sure residents are protected, roads maintained and this is done right.

"Our dirt roads can't stand up to that level of traffic."

Johnson said that assumes no dust palliative is put on top of the construction sites to control the dust. And Nevada Wind officials also plan to lay gravel on part of the haul route, which would control dust.

Edwards said asked to see renderings of the turbines to be used for the project and their locations. Commissioners were concerned with several options in routing a transmission line to the Tracy power substation.

Conditions on maintaining roads through the valley were worked out in the last minutes between Palomino Valley General Improvement District officials and the Nevada Wind. District trustees recommended the conditions in a Friday night vote.

"Who are the subcontractors? Who are the engineers?" resident Jeff Gardner said. "We need to guarantee those things are going to work and stand up there."

Commissioner Neal Cobb asked for an the company to hire an overseer to make sure the project is done correctly.

Among the 60 conditions put on the project, the National Weather Service and developers agreed to find a way to make sure the turbine blades don't interfere with the radar that scans weather conditions in a 120-mile radius. Winds up to 140 mph recently took down the National Weather Service's radar tower on Virginia Peak in the same area of the Pah Rahs proposed for the wind farm.

While the wind turbines are not to be nearer than a mile from nearby homes, the commission heard from several property owners who plan to build homes closer.

John Ross, owner of land near the wind farm site, said the turbines would be within 400-500 yards of his property, which he said is in a beautiful canyon with a creek and springs. Because of the wind turbines, he said his real estate agent has told him the land is "worth nothing."

About 125 people attended the hearing. Commissioner Keith Lockard said he read all comments sent to the commission by the valley residents.

"They were thoughtful and well reasoned and the tone has been respectful," he said.

Three sheriff's deputies stood in the commission chambers and stayed for about half of the meeting.

Some residents such spoke in favor of the project.

"I want to be able to purchase green and local energy," Tom Waltz of Reno said. "There are people in the area who do care."

Developers said the wind farm would produce up to 85 megawatts, providing power for up to 36,000 households.

Washoe County commissioners have made developing alternative energy resources a top priority, and the project could be a hedge against spiraling energy costs for the region.

The turbines would be seen from throughout the valley and from Nixon and Sutcliffe on the northeast side of the Pah Rahs. Every third turbine would have flashing lights required by the Federal Aviation Administration.

"Certainly, turbines are going to be visible. They have to be located on the top of the ridges," county planner Trevor Lloyd said.

The project, if built in 2010 as proposed, is expected to be the first in Nevada and entirely on private easements. Several other proposed wind farms in the state face lengthy environmental studies because they cross federal lands. Eighty percent of the state is off limits because of military restrictions or wilderness designations.


Source: http://www.rgj.com/article/...

JAN 7 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/18504-washoe-delays-wind-turbine-decision
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