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Wind permitting OK'd

The commissioners voted 5-0 Nov. 15 at a special meeting to approve a revised draft of permitting guidelines. Those guidelines reiterate state statute in most instances but differ in a few. ...The commissioners also increased the setback to 10 times the height of the tower from a "permanent" residential dwelling or occupied structure.

Future companies who wish to construct wind farms in the county now have to follow specific guidelines to garner permission from the Converse County commission.

To construct a wind farm, a company must get permits from both Converse County and the Industrial Siting Council. Wasatch Wind is expected to submit an application to the Industrial Siting Council by the end of the year and hopefully by early December, Wasatch Wind Director of Marketing and Communications Michelle Stevens said.

State Oil and Gas Supervisor Thomas Doll told the commission Nov. 16 that he expects Wasatch to file its application with the ISC by Dec. 13. Chairman Ed Werner said he expects Wasatch to file with the county within a few days after it files with the ISC.

The commissioners voted 5-0 Nov. 15 at a special meeting to approve a revised draft of permitting guidelines. Those guidelines reiterate state statute in most instances but differ in a few. Initially, minimum standards stated a tower must be 5.5 times the maximum height of the tower from a residential dwelling or occupied structure.

Current towers average 300-400 feet and the smallest commercial tower is about 260 feet, representatives of... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Future companies who wish to construct wind farms in the county now have to follow specific guidelines to garner permission from the Converse County commission.

To construct a wind farm, a company must get permits from both Converse County and the Industrial Siting Council. Wasatch Wind is expected to submit an application to the Industrial Siting Council by the end of the year and hopefully by early December, Wasatch Wind Director of Marketing and Communications Michelle Stevens said.

State Oil and Gas Supervisor Thomas Doll told the commission Nov. 16 that he expects Wasatch to file its application with the ISC by Dec. 13. Chairman Ed Werner said he expects Wasatch to file with the county within a few days after it files with the ISC.

The commissioners voted 5-0 Nov. 15 at a special meeting to approve a revised draft of permitting guidelines. Those guidelines reiterate state statute in most instances but differ in a few. Initially, minimum standards stated a tower must be 5.5 times the maximum height of the tower from a residential dwelling or occupied structure.

Current towers average 300-400 feet and the smallest commercial tower is about 260 feet, representatives of Wasatch Wind and Rocky Mountain Power said.

The commissioners also increased the setback to 10 times the height of the tower from a "permanent" residential dwelling or occupied structure.


"If somebody came in, for some reason, with a really small tower but they still called it a commercial tower, it still, no matter what the size of the tower, couldn't be less than 1,000 feet," Werner said.

"(Permanent) is to differentiate a camper that might be pulled in for hunting season or something like that as opposed to a house that is on a foundation that has a septic system that has been licensed and approved," Werner said.

This setback can be waived by the person holding the title to the residential dwelling or occupied structure but in no case may a tower be within 110 percent of the tower's height to the building in question.

Under state guidelines, a tower must be a half mile from any city or town limits. They altered this to say a tower must be more than 10 times the tower's height from city or town limits. This was done to ensure proper tower distance is maintained in the future no matter how tall towers may become.

At the Nov. 15 meeting, several members of the Northern Laramie Range Alliance requested the commissioners adopt language to protect county parks, and Esterbrook Community Church in particular, from wind turbines because such areas are not outlined in the guidelines.

"Our understanding of the statutes is, if they are quiet on a subject, we can't add it," Werner said. "We can only adjust the standards they listed. If they list it under the eight different standards as the legislature, our understanding of the statute is, we can then strengthen those standards. We cannot create new standards."

"So then we can have wind towers adjacent Boxelder Canyon and Ayres Natural Bridge?" Sally Sarvey asked the commissioners.

"As it sounds, yes," Werner said.

"This (legislation) doesn't appear to allow us to create those standards. It talks about residential but it doesn't talk about county lands," Commissioner Jim Willox added. "If we wanted to address those, we would have to go back to article two, which is the zoning regulations. Under this permitting process, we are not able to address those. We don't want (wind turbines) there, we just have to figure out the right venue to do it and it doesn't appear that the permitting process allows it."

The commissioners previously voted 5-0 on Aug. 3 not to enact zoning in Converse County.

Another concern raised was the lack of cultural, historical or wildlife protection in the guidelines. The commissioners said they were denied the right to include those factors in their permitting process. The ISC however, does require cultural, historical and wildlife studies to be performed by all permit applicants.

Other guidelines include but are not limited to:

• Applicant must make a reasonable effort to notify, in writing, all owners of land within one mile of the proposed project and to all cities and towns within 20 miles. The notice shall include a geral description of the project including its location, projected number of turbines and likely routes of ingress and egress.

• Certification that a written emergency management plan has been submitted for review and comment to the Converse County Fire Warden, Converse County Emergency Management Coordinator and the Converse County Sheriff.

• A waste management plan that includes an inventory of estimated solid wastes and a proposed disposal program.

• Sufficient evidence of adequate legal access for roads, transmission lines and any other ingress or egress.

• Reasonable road use agreement for the use of county roads prior to construction of the facility. The applicant will also be required to enter into a reasonable road use agreement with the county.

• A project plan indicating the proposed roadways, tower locations, substation locations, transmission, collector and gathering lines and other ancillary facility components.

• Certification that there will be no advertising or promotional lettering on any tower, turbine, nacelle or blade beyond the manufacturer's or the applicant's logo on the nacelle of the turbine.

• A site and facility reclamation and decommissioning plan that indicates the planned life of the wind energy facility and the means by which the facility and its site will be decommissioned and reclaimed at the end of the facility's life. The plan must be updated every five years until site reclamation and decommissioning is complete.

• The tower base is a minimum of 110 percent the tower height from any property line or adjacent facility unless waived in writing by all property owners within the minimum distance.

• The tower base is 110 percent the tower height from any public road right-of-way.

• The construction of any tower or other structure other than underground structures, transmission lines, roadways and structures appurtenant to roadways are the greater of 5.5 times the tower height or no less than 1,000 feet from any platted subdivision unless a waiver is signed by all owner within the distance.

The Converse County commission will have 30 days to approve or deny an application after receiving it. If an application is denied, the commission will inform the applicant of specific deficiencies. The applicant will then have 30 days to alter and re-submit its application at which point a final decision will be made on the completeness of the application, but not its adequateness.

At this stage of the permitting process, the commissioners can only decide if the necessary components have been submitted and not to the quality of the submissions.

The example given at the public hearing was if a applicant's waste management plan is to dump everything into a gorge, that would qualify a completed waste management plan and would be approved at this stage, but would likely be denied after the public hearing because of the inadequateness of the waste management plan.

If the application is approved, a public hearing concerning it will be scheduled between 45-60 days after providing public notice in a newspaper of general circulation (currently the Douglas Budget). The commission will have 45 days after the public hearing to approve or deny the wind project's permit.

If approved, a permit may be suspended if the applicant provided false statements to secure a permit, failed to comply with the terms or conditions of the permit, violated of the rules and regulations adopted by the Commissioners or the Industrial Siting Council, failed to receive a permit from the Industrial Siting Council, failed to transmit electricity for two consecutive years or more or failure to maintain land right necessary to operate the wind energy facility.

"We are very appreciative of the commissioners' efforts, including them extending the public hearing opportunity because that is important and that is why we attend," Wasatch Wind's Stevens said. "We want to hear what everyone is saying. We are already abiding by the regulations even as they have changed and we are happy to abide by the regulations because the regulations are in place to protect the residents and to take into consideration the local area. We always appreciate having rules to follow because it is helpful to know what the rules are and then be able to follow them."


Source: http://www.douglas-budget.c...

NOV 19 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/28962-wind-permitting-ok-d
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