Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Idaho
The state House Resources and Conservation Committee approved a bill Thursday that would allow the Idaho State Board of Land Commissioners to decide whether public land be used for commercial or business purposes. The bill, which was proposed on behalf of Ridgeline Energy, a wind turbine company looking to expand its operations in southern Idaho, would allow commercial leases on state land for up to 49 years. Currently, only leases for use of stone, coal, oil, gas or other minerals can be longer than 10 years. As a result, decisions would be determined on a case-by-case basis by the board, which consists of Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, State Controller Donna M. Jones, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and Secretary to the Board George Bacon. The bill would not affect agricultural leases, grazing leases, oil and gas leases, mineral leases, geothermal leases, single-family, recreational cottage site and home site leases.
Idaho Power Co. is seeking regulatory approval of sales agreements with two proposed wind projects in Elmore County near Mountain Home. The Idaho Public Utilities Commission should decide soon whether or not it should approve Idaho Power’s request to buy power from the Bennett Creek Windfarm LLC and Hot Springs Windfarm LLC. The developer of both projects is Glenn Ikemoto of Energy Vision LLC, based in Piedmont, Calif. According to information provided by Ikemoto, the windfarms will be located approximately 12 miles southeast of Mountain Home. Both projects will consist of 1.25 mile-long rows of 12 Vestas V82 wind turbines, rated at 1.65 megawatts each.
Windland’s conditional-use permit opens a seven-year window for the wind power company to build a transmission line linking its planned wind farm in the Cotterel Mountains between Malta and Albion to existing lines owned by Idaho Power Co. Construction of the wind farm itself is slated to take place during the same period. Both phases of the project are set to be completed by 2014. Michael Heckler, director of marketing for Windland, said his company designed the transmission line’s route to cross as little private land in Cassia County as possible. Though the line will cross four privately owned lots, he said it will not interfere with areas of high traffic.
“We’re very much in favor of alternative energy solutions,” longtime East Fork resident Carl Bontrager said Tuesday morning as the Blaine County Board of Commissioners opened their first meeting of 2007 with a session for unscheduled public comment. “But I was very surprised to find out that windmills are an apparently an allowed use as an accessory structure in Blaine County and doesn’t require any neighbor notification, hearings or anything.” What? Ultra-progressive Blaine County with someone actually questioning the appropriateness of wind-generated energy? Bontrager asked the commission to consider what -besides guilt-free electricity- a windmill can produce.
At just the time of year when work output slows to a crawl in many organizations, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission is being asked to render a tough decision quickly in a case that has far-reaching implications for wind project development in the state. In September, Jared Grover, developer of the proposed Cassia Gulch Wind Park and Cassia Wind Farm near Hagerman, Idaho, filed a complaint with the commission challenging Idaho Power's intent to charge wind developers the estimated $60 million costs of transmission system upgrades needed to accommodate nearly 200 MW of capacity expected from such projects. Grover's portion of this upgrade would be about $7 million, an amount he says would force him to scrap his projects and would sound the death knell for many other wind projects pending in Idaho.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is taking comments through Thursday on an application by Idaho Power Co. to enter into a sales agreement with Magic Wind Park LLC. Magic Wind developer Armand Eckert of Buhl plans to install eight 2.5-megawatt wind turbines eight miles northwest of Buhl. Under the proposed agreement, Magic Wind would not generate more than 10 average megawatts on a monthly basis.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission heard oral arguments Tuesday in a case that will play a big role in future development of wind power in the Gem State. A complaint filed by Cassia Gulch Wind Park and Cassia Wind Farm alleges an Idaho Power requirement that small-power producers pay for nearly $60 million in transmission upgrades will stifle the economic development of a number of wind projects and delay development of renewable energy in Idaho. “If we’re saddled with a $50 to $60 million burden, there’s no way I could entertain any investors to take on that risk,” said Jared Grover, the developer of the Cassia wind projects near Hagerman, in an interview with CBS 2 News.
A Canadian company's plan to build electrical transmission lines might provide a way for Idaho National Laboratory to sell nuclear power someday, a lab spokesman says. TransCanada's NorthernLights project includes three electrical transmission lines in the Pacific Northwest by 2012, including two that would run through southeastern Idaho. The two high-voltage, direct-current lines — one from Montana, the other from Wyoming — would come together in southeastern Idaho and weave south to Las Vegas. They will carry energy from coal, wind power and other sources.
Idaho Power Co., the state’s largest utility, has told the Idaho Public Utilities Commission that wind farmers should pay the millions of dollars for upgrades needed to connect them to the power grid. Wind farmers say Idaho Power should pay for the upgrades, as required by a 1978 law. The commission is hearing arguments over the dispute.
Boise-based Windland, Inc. working in partnership with Shell Wind Energy recently completed a four-year permitting process with the Bureau of Land Management to OK a massive wind turbine power project on BLM land in the Cotterel Mountains near Albion, Idaho. Once completed, the Cotterel Wind Power Project will comprise 98, 300-foot-tall towers equipped with swirling white propellers stretching along 14 miles of ridgeline. Cotterel will provide enough energy to power 50,000 homes, roughly the number of homes in Twin Falls and Jerome and Gooding counties combined. If completed, the project will be the largest wind farm built on federal lands in the last 25 years.
People who live 20 miles outside of Blackfoot might have a new windy neighbor if an application is approved by Planning and Zoning tonight. Lava Beds Wind Farm is waiting on a decision from Bingham County Planning and Zoning to create a wind farm. Their application is for 18 windmills on 2,000 to 3,000 acres. The property is from 500 to 1000 North and 1900 to 2100 West. With the lack of feedback from the community, officials feel the meeting will go smoothly tonight
They've considered more hydroelectric plants, but depending on the water year they can be unreliable. They’ve also thought of wind turbines, but again those are only as reliable as the wind, and according to them nuclear power isn’t an option for at least 20 years.
Kathleen Clarke, Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), announced completion of an environmental review of the largest wind energy project on Federal land in the last 25 years. Approval of the Record of Decision (ROD) and right-of-way grant for the Cotterel Wind Power Project on 4,500 acres of BLM-managed public land clears the way for the installation of up to 98 turbines on a ridge in south-central Idaho five miles east of Albion in Cassia County.
Ninety-eight wind energy turbines have just been approved for the top of the Cotterel Mountains. This makes for the largest wind energy project on federal land in the last 25 years. Both the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Land Management announced they approved the plans.