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Part 2 of 2: Fighting against the wind

Residents of the desolate Palomino Valley have attended citizen’s advisory board meetings, planning commission meetings and will soon face another round of meetings because of an appeal filed by area resident Dan Herman. Herman said he filed the appeal not in opposition to the Virginia Peak Wind Project as a whole, but in opposition to the project’s two closest turbines to residents’ homes and property. As part of the special-use permit, approved by the Washoe County Planning Commission on Feb. 4, no wind turbines can be installed within one mile of existing homes.

Residents of the desolate Palomino Valley have attended citizen’s advisory board meetings, planning commission meetings and will soon face another round of meetings because of an appeal filed by area resident Dan Herman.

Herman said he filed the appeal not in opposition to the Virginia Peak Wind Project as a whole, but in opposition to the project’s two closest turbines to residents’ homes and property.

As part of the special-use permit, approved by the Washoe County Planning Commission on Feb. 4, no wind turbines can be installed within one mile of existing homes.

Valley residents voiced their concerns at that meeting about noise pollution, the project’s effect on property values as well as construction traffic and the possible disruptions construction could bring to the area.

In addition to voicing their concerns, valley residents sent the commission 31 letters opposing the project and a petition signed by more than 350 people.

The project would place 44 wind turbines on private land leased by Nevada Wind.

“(Wind energy) is not a... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Residents of the desolate Palomino Valley have attended citizen’s advisory board meetings, planning commission meetings and will soon face another round of meetings because of an appeal filed by area resident Dan Herman.

Herman said he filed the appeal not in opposition to the Virginia Peak Wind Project as a whole, but in opposition to the project’s two closest turbines to residents’ homes and property.

As part of the special-use permit, approved by the Washoe County Planning Commission on Feb. 4, no wind turbines can be installed within one mile of existing homes.

Valley residents voiced their concerns at that meeting about noise pollution, the project’s effect on property values as well as construction traffic and the possible disruptions construction could bring to the area.

In addition to voicing their concerns, valley residents sent the commission 31 letters opposing the project and a petition signed by more than 350 people.

The project would place 44 wind turbines on private land leased by Nevada Wind.

“(Wind energy) is not a complex issue,” Nevada Wind managing partner Tim Carlson said. “The turbine itself collects the energy by the rotation of the blades. As the turbine itself turns it generates the electricity in a generator. Very similar to your car. It’s very simple but very high-tech in a way. We are catching the free energy in a way.”

Carlson said that green energy, when purchased for use by a power company such as NV Energy, is a positive thing because not only is it natural but it also helps stabilize energy prices for area customers.

“Wind doesn’t blow all the time,” Carlson said. “It is an inconsistent energy, but when it does go into a system it is the first energy that is used.”

Carlson explained that the 44 turbines would generate about 85 megawatts of power, which is enough power to provide about 45,000 households with electricity.

Nevada Wind had hoped to break ground in the next eight to 12 months, but Herman’s appeal has halted the project.

Regardless of the appeal, before moving dirt or trucking in turbine parts, Nevada Wind must comply with the 72 stipulations implemented on the project throughout the application process.

“We are the pioneer on this project and we will need to be very sensitive and careful,” Carlson said about the project. “We don’t want to do anything wrong that would cause a black eye for the industry.”

One stipulation would be to find a solution to avoid interference with National Weather Service radar stationed on Virginia Peak.

“We have a weather radar up on Virginia Peak and as the plan stands now, if the planner does not make any changes, 23 of the 44 wind turbines would protrude into the line of the radar,” said Jane Hollingsworth, who is the meteorologist in charge National Weather Service in Reno. “If those turbines are left as they are planned, we wouldn’t be able to tell if it was raining of snowing or changes in levels in intensity. Rotors on the turbines can create false echoes on their own. We would be getting false returns.”

Hollingsworth said that the National Weather Service will work with the developer to help alleviate the problem and that the weather service will run models to see the impact that the project would have on the radar system.

“The indication that we got from the county and the specific words given to me by Trevor Lloyd, the county planner, (was that) the developer would not be able to turn over a shovel of dirt if it affected our radar in any way,” Hollingsworth said. “The only thing that concerns me, is that we, the National Weather Service and the residents, is that the developer will make modifications to make sure the radar will not be affected but the project has been approved. So, the (responsibility) is on the county to hold them to that.”

Carlson said that Nevada Wind has already taken steps to find a solution to the radar interference.

“That interference can be adjusted, technically, or we can do other things to alleviate interference,” Carlson said, “such as putting another radar tower on another mountain that feeds back to the first one. I’ve actually engaged Sen. (Harry) Reid’s office on this issue.

“We are addressing that stipulation and will solve that issue with the help of Reid’s office and other congressional offices.”

Palomino Valley residents are also hoping that the planning commission will consider the noise pollution caused by the whirling wind turbines. In addition to noise pollution, resident Bill Chamberlain is concerned about subsonic noise that can be detected by animals but not humans.

“I run a wildlife sanctuary out here,” Chamberlain said of his Quaken Aspen residence. “The animals we have out here we try to give them the most peaceful and tranquil environment that we can.”

Chamberlain claims that his land, which he uses for a wolf refuge, is less than a mile from the nearest proposed wind turbine.

“My residence out here is the furthest up Quaking Aspen,” he said. “I used the county’s geographical information services to measure the distance. It is about .9 miles.”

One of the conditions on the project is that no wind turbine can be placed within one mile of existing structures. Carlson assures that Nevada Wind is abiding by that condition.

“There is no home within the one mile radius of the turbines we are building,” Carlson said. “That is a misnomer. We are being respectful of their rights as much as we can.”

Chamberlain’s property is close to the two southern-most wind turbines being appealed by Herman.

“The community has been dealing with (the question) ‘Should we or should we not appeal this?’ ” Chamberlain said. “If we did appeal it, it sets us up to the possibility to lose the 72 conditions we worked hard to get.”

Herman is only appealing the special-use permit in order to remove the two southern-most turbines from property owned by real estate leasing company XO, LLC.

“I paid $930 to have my 10 minutes in front of the county commissioners,” said Herman, who is the only resident to file an appeal as of Wednesday afternoon. “I am representing the property owners in my appeal.”

County Senior Planner Lloyd said the project will now be reviewed by the Washoe County Board of Commissioners and will continue though a lengthy process before the permit could be granted.

Lloyd expects commission meeting on the project to be held in March.

“I think that whatever happens with the county commissioners will be the end of it,” Herman said.

Lloyd said the Virginia Peak Wind Project is the first green energy project that uses wind or solar energy to ever apply for a permit with the county, but the county has had geothermal applications before.

“We like the fact that it is a renewable energy project that will benefit the county as well as the state,” Lloyd said. “I hope it makes way for other similar projects. I hope that it works out that the applicants will be able to meet all of the conditions and provide a successful project.”


Source: http://dailysparkstribune.c...

FEB 20 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/19186-part-2-of-2-fighting-against-the-wind
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