COLORADO SPRINGS - The El Paso County Planning Commission, following an 11.5 hour hearing on Jan. 6 voted 6-3 to recommend denial of Next Era Energy Resources' amended application for a proposed wind farm at Calhan.
"The primary opposition was the route" for the transmission line from the site to a transfer station, said Max Rothschild of the Pikes Peak Regional Development Center.
The project's original owner, Golden West, proposed to route the transmission line along U.S. 24 then to put the line underground through the residential area of Falcon en route to the transfer station.
Late last year, County Planner Craig Dossey told the Ranchland News that Next Era opted to reroute the transmission line south of Meadowlake Airport and through a less populated area of the county but still through residential areas.
In the amended application, Next Era, to reduce cost, intended to construct all of the transmission line above ground.
Planning Commissioners were adamant, said Rothschild.
"The chair wants nothing but consent" to an amended route, said Rothschild.
Another issue raised by the planning commission was drainage.
Residents during public comment raised issues, including view shed and water issues.
Calhan engineer Larry Mott at the hearings for the original project said the project is unnecessary because the vendor temporarily could park a generator at an established site and generate an equivalent amount of energy using a "dispatchable" system.
Mott also has alleged that the proposed published production of the proposed number of wind turbines is false.
Mott last year calculated the difference in wind factors at the Calhan site compared to production information published by the company, which is based in Florida.
Air density is among those factors.
Mott predicted actual production at the Calhan site would be a fraction of what the original owner and Next Era proposed.
The amended application plus the proposed 1041 regulations compliance actions for the project will be heard by the El Paso County Board of Commissioners at the Feb 5 regular meeting.
This board either can accept the planning commission's recommendation and vote to deny or can vote to approve the amended application.
The only commissioner who voted against the original application was Amy Lathen, who at the time listed issued brought to her attention by constituents.
Next Era expects to be "under construction" on March 17, said Rothschild.