Library from Oregon
Nathan Baker, staff attorney for Friends of the Columbia Gorge, said that his group's primary concern was that the way the rules were adopted shut out the public and made it difficult for citizens to participate. "That's never a good thing," he said. "There needs to be transparency and an open public process."
Caithness is asking for permission to “repower” the three units of the Shepherds Flat wind farm, which totals 238 turbines in Gilliam and Morrow counties. The Energy Facility Siting Council late last month posted a proposed order backing the move for one of the units, along with draft orders for the other two units.
About 900 new plants, most of which produce renewable energy, were proposed last year, compared with 300 in 2004, said Glenn McGrath, an analyst with the federal agency. “Regardless of where you go, there’s always some issues—whether it’s bats, whether it’s birds, whether it’s wealthy landowners who don’t want their view interrupted,” said Dan Shreve, wind-energy research director at consulting firm Wood Mackenzie. “As a consequence, you see these initiatives drag on forever.”
But Portland-based PacifiCorp said there was one other thing the wind project needed in order to be a winner for ratepayers — it had to be operating by the end of 2020, qualifying it for the full value of a lucrative federal incentive.
"This and direct collisions with the turbines has resulted in millions of bat deaths over the last two decades," said Rodhouse. Oregon and Washington have 3,600 wind turbines that generating capacity of 6,300 megawatts. Most wind farms are clustered near the Columbia River Gorge. Others are near Ellensburg and Walla Walla in Washington and Baker City in Oregon.
This critical study demonstrates the direct connection between wind energy deployment and the dangerous decline in bat populations, particularly involving the Hoary bat, which existed in abundance throughout the United States until recently. The researchers show that White Noise Syndrome is not a factor in the decline across the Pacific Northwest area. The full report can be accessed by clicking the document links on this page.
Oregon and Washington combined have 3,600 wind turbines with 6,300 megawatts of installed generating capacity. In both states, the majority of the wind farms are clustered near the Columbia River Gorge, east of The Dalles. Other farms in the region can be found near Ellensburg and Walla Walla in Washington, and Baker City in Oregon. While collisions with the propellers on wind farms cause many of the deaths, barotrauma is another problem.
The project, originally called the Mud Springs Wind Ranch Project, has been renamed the Pryor Mountain Wind Project. The project changed hands several times before Pacificorp bought the farm from Sunrise Wind Holdings LLC in May. The 114-turbine farm will connect with an existing Pacificorp 230-kilovolt transmission line in Park County, Wyoming. The turbines will reach about 454 feet tall at the high point of the blades.
Friends of the Columbia Gorge said in a statement that the ruling is likely to affect two projects: a wind farm along the Deschutes River and a natural gas-powered electrical generating plant in Umatilla County, both of which the group says benefited from the 2017 rule change the court now says was improper. "As a result of today's ruling, the permission to build two specific projects has now expired," Friends said.
An Oregon Supreme Court ruling could bring an end to permits for two big energy projects in Eastern Oregon and eight more statewide. The Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council in October 2017 adopted a swifter, less public method to amend permits, or site certificates, for wind farms, thermal power plants and other large energy facilities. While the traditional “type A” review process involved public notices and hearings, the new “type B” process cut out the public involvement, including allowing interested parties to request a contested case proceeding. Type B also required staff to issue decisions as soon as possible.
Today the Oregon Supreme Court held in favor of a coalition of nine conservation organizations, invalidating rules adopted in 2017 by the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council (EFSC) that had dramatically reduced transparency and discouraged public participation in permitting decisions for large power plants throughout Oregon. Today’s legal victory is also expected to terminate the previously issued permits for two controversial power projects, the Summit Ridge Wind Farm proposed in Wasco County, along the Deschutes river, and the Perennial Wind Chaser Station, a natural gas power plant proposed in Umatilla County.
The Oregon Supreme court ordered that procedures adopted by the state's energy siting council for handing amendments to already approved permits (site certificates) do not properly consider public comments. The new rules which apply to thermal power plants, wind energy projects, and other large energy facilities "hid agency decisions to expand power plants from the public, unlawfully delegated important decisions to Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) staff, and illegally modified judicial review procedures for challenging council decisions," according to Friends of the Columbia Gorge and eight other conservation organizations who filed the appeal challenging the new rules. A portion of the court order is provided below. The full order can be accessed by clicking the document link(s) on this page.
MORO — In Sherman County, every family gets a gift at Christmastime.
More than a dozen citizens asked the Wasco County Commission April 3 not to submit a letter of support it wrote for the Summit Ridge wind project east of Dufur. The commission opted to table the matter.
The Summit Ridge Wind Farm was granted a site certificate by the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council (EFSC or Council) on August 19, 2011. The applicant now seeks a 4th amendment to the certificate that extends the start construction timeline another two years. A host of objections have been raised about the project. This page includes comments by K. Shawn Smallwood PhD outlining environmental concerns with the project’s wildlife surveys and analysis. The Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Oregon Wild, and others present their own comments. The procedural background information and an excerpt of the comments filed with the Council are provided below. The full documents can be downloaded from the links on this page.
The company said in its site amendment filing that it "proposes to update turbine dimensions to reflect current technology it anticipates using for facility construction." Because each turbine would produce more power — up to 4.2 megawatts apiece — the change could allow it to deploy fewer turbines, the company noted.
A malfunctioning wind turbine sparked a grass fire near Arlington that burned about 2,000 acres on Thursday. Joe Claughton, North Gilliam Rural Fire Protection District chief, said no buildings were burned, but two railroad trestles caught on fire. The fire started about half a mile from milepost 3 on Highway 19 by Rattlesnake Road.
A defective GE 2.5MW wind turbine erupted in flames at the Caithness Shepherds Flat wind energy facility causing fire to spread to more than a thousand acres of brush. The failed turbine was located at Rhea Road and Highway 19 just East of Arlington, Oregon in Gilliam County. The project was commissioned in 2012 and includes 338 turbines (845 MW) making it one of the largest in the United States.
A railroad bridge burns Thursday night (Aug. 2, 2018) in Arlington, Oregon. Firefighters said a wind turbine caught fire, sparking a blaze.
... biggest impact to birds in Central and Eastern Oregon would likely be from wind turbines, thanks to the presence of several large wind energy projects in Eastern Oregon. Miller, a member of the East Cascade Audubon Society, said wind turbines disproportionately harm raptors, including falcons and golden eagles, relative to other human-made threats such as cars and power lines.