Library from Colorado
While NextEra Energy Resources continues to construct a wind farm in eastern El Paso County, a coalition of concerned residents in the area has been fighting the project by filing a lawsuit against NextEra and the EPC Board of County Commissioners. The same coalition filed an injunction to halt construction on the wind farm until a decision on the lawsuit had been reached.
A lawsuit seeking to dismantle a wind farm project in eastern El Paso County will proceed despite objections from both El Paso County and the wind farm's owner, NextEra Energy Resources. But while the county will have to defend its February approval of the wind farm, attorneys will also fight a separate claim that the county's 15-hour hearing on the project was a farce and that the vote was predetermined based on pressure from NextEra.
“I have the reasonable belief that the reason why NextEra is requiring a $400 million bond is because they know that the village coalition can’t come up with even 1 percent of that, which would be $4 million. If they get the judge to agree to any part of it, they have completely shut us down. They will have effectively kept us from having our day in court."
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has issued an executive order to protect the state’s greater sage grouse population in a move meant to avoid potential federal regulations that could come with an endangered status for the bird. ...The sage grouse saga has played out both in Western states like Colorado, where officials are trying to avoid an endangered species listing, and in Congress, where Republican lawmakers have also worked to keep the bird off the list.
Residents that live in the area of Harrisville Road, just east of Calhan, have noticed a deterioration in road conditions since work began on the Golden West Wind Farm Project. Harrisville Road is located on the haul route that Blattner Energy, a contractor working for project owner NextEra Energy Resources, routinely uses.
For NextEra, halting the project would mean a potential loss of millions invested in constructing the wind farm, something that the company believes should be compensated for if it is forced to stop its work.
Wind power in the area is down and affecting the output for the Lamar Utilities Board renewable energy operation.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a letter titled Notice of Presumed Hazard on the project to Eric Wenger , of Renewable Energy Systems , saying the structures would "exceed obstruction standards and/or would have an adverse physical or electromagnetic interference effect upon navigable airspace or air navigation facilities."
During a two-hour meeting Thursday afternoon, the commissioners repeated their objections, but added other reasons as well in turning away the project.
Black Hills Energy’s request to erect a new 60-megawatt addition to its wind-power complex in Huerfano County will be back in front of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission on Thursday.
El Paso County Property Rights Coalition, a Colorado, a Colorado limited cooperative association et. al. filed this complaint against the Colorado County Commissioners of El Pase County and NexEra Energy Resources following the county's approval of the Golden West wind energy facility, a 250 MW project. The project was initially approved by the County in December 2013. Within weeks of the project permit being issued, NextEra Energy acquired the rights of the project and started the process of amending the plans to move the turbines, increase their height and seek permission to raise the transmission line so it was above ground. On January 6, 2015, the Planning Commission considered the amended project and ultimately recommended it be denied by a 6-3 vote.
Eastern El Paso County residents say they intend to file for an injunction to try to halt the construction of a controversial wind farm project until their lawsuit is heard.
The suit is another development in an ongoing effort by residents to block a wind farm project run by NextEra Energy Resources, which plans to raise at least 126 wind turbines over the plains near Calhan. Although the commissioners approved the plan in 2013, amendments to the project raised the ire of area residents who fear the wind farm and its accompanying above-ground power line will damage their property values and their health.
“NextEra said on record that if we didn’t approve it, they would pull the project and sue the county,” Lathen said.
Despite the lengthy meeting and late hour, about 100 people stayed for the vote, and there were shouts of disapproval. "You've ruined my property," some yelled. In early January, the county's planning commission recommended against the change, citing health risks, equipment eyesores and infringing on private property.
Donna Bryant owns two properties close to the transmission lines that NextEra wants to reroute. She said if she had known about the changes at the time she purchased the properties, she would not have offered “a dollar” for them. “I bought this house 14 months ago. I offered more than the asking price because I wanted the view,” Bryant said. “I’m a combat vet, and I’m here in my retirement home — and I don’t want to be encroached upon.”
The bill could face its final vote in the Republican-controlled Senate as early as Wednesday, when the measure is likely to move to the House. But the legislation faces a bumpy road in the Democratic-controlled House.
Regardless of the farm's potential economic benefits - or even whether the power line gets put above ground - the project's transformation of the plains south of Calhan is hard to face for residents such as Laura Foye to accept. Foye, who is horrified by the prospect of power lines transversing her rural neighborhood, has spent months absorbing information she can about wind farms.
If you think NIMBY attitudes run deep in suburbs and gated communities, try the countryside. Many of these folks don't want a damn thing in their backyard. So when a large wind farm was approved by the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners in December 2013 for the Calhan area — after years of delays and switches in ownership — there were quite a few people who didn't like it.
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.