Library from Oregon
A project as big as Antelope Ridge is bound to have some negative impacts. Horizon should do everything within its power to minimize those and negotiate a fair settlement with Union County. If it does all that, it won't have to worry about the outcome of the vote.
Union County citizens will have a chance to express their opinion of a $600 million wind farm planned near Union. The board of commissioners voted Wednesday to place a nonbinding advisory issue on the November ballot.
The proposal has been controversial from the beginning. Opponents say the wind farm would have negative impacts on scenery, property values, wildlife, the tourism industry and more. Other people favor the project because it would create jobs and economic development, and produce green energy.
After a lengthy public hearing, the Union County Board of Commissioners is set to decide whether to ask the public for its opinion on Horizon Wind Energy’s plan to build a 300-megawatt wind farm near Union....The state and not Union County is the deciding authority, but wind farm opponents have urged the county board to take a position against Horizon’s plans.
Friends of the Grande Ronde Valley, an anti-wind farm group, has been pressuring the board of commissioners to take a stand against the wind farm proposal. Recently, organized support for the wind farm appeared with the formation of a group called For Our Rural Oregon.
Residents in small towns are fighting proposed projects, raising concerns about threats to birds and big game, as well as about the way the giant towers and their blinking lights spoil some of the West's most alluring views. Here, just west of where the Columbia bends north into Washington, some people are fighting turbines that are already up and running. In a region where people often have to holler to be heard over the roar of the wind across the barren hills, they say it is the windmills that make too much noise.
As more renewable energy developers take advantage of windy expanses of land in Oregon's eastern deserts, battles increasingly are being waged between developers and conservation groups. Developers want the land with the best wind and sun exposure. For the most part, that land is located near habitats of sage grouse, golden eagles and other wildlife.
The answer is that electricity generated on Steens is destined for Southern California. Oregonians stand to see one of their most beautiful wilderness areas spoiled so Californians can keep their air conditioners on high. Why not send the current overload to California? Why not build the turbines there?
Development of $1 billion worth of wind power on the north side of southeastern Oregon's popular Steens Mountain hinges on approval of a high-voltage transmission line that would cross federal lands.
Released last week, the draft study was prepared by Entrix Environmental Solutions for the Bureau of Land Management. The document says the proposed wind turbines and power lines would be visible from less than one-half of 1 percent of the 170,000-acre Steens Wilderness. Columbia Energy Partners hopes to erect wind turbines on or near the mountain in four projects each generating about 104 megawatts.
When the wind blows harder than forecast, they can't bypass the dam turbines to lower hydro generation, because dumping too much water over the spillways harms fish. So the other option is to cut generation at the wind farms. Too many curtailments, however, undermines the economics of wind, not only because turbines generate less power to sell but because valuable tax and renewable energy credits are only generated when their blades are spinning.
"Lands in Harney County are vast and varied," Nysson said. "There are many appropriate places for wind development. But when we put these projects in places with severe environmental impacts, we aren't getting the benefit of truly green energy." Those environmental impacts, Nysson said, include potential collisions of raptors with wind turbines, disruption of endangered sage grouse habitat and alteration of the natural character of Steens Mountain.
A recent study in Klickitat County, Washington indicates 6,500 birds and 3,000 bats are killed annually in the two states-though the number of deaths in the two states may be much higher. ...an untold number of birds are devoured by vultures or coyotes before they're included in the count.
Whether the majority of citizens support development of a 300-megawatt wind farm on Craig Mountain near Union is anybody's guess. What's sure is, not one of the 150 people showing up at an anti-wind forum Wednesday night at the Blue Mountain Conference Center had a good thing to say about the project.
A local group opposed to construction of the Antelope Ridge Wind Farm near Union takes its case to the public Wednesday night, holding an informational meeting at the Blue Mountain Conference Center, 404 12th Street. Pamela Wilkinson, who with her husband, Dennis, leads the activist group, Friends of the Grande Ronde Valley, said the forum is designed to make people aware of possible wind power impacts.
Ten years ago Congress protected Steens Mountain to, in essence, keep it the way it is. In collaboration with ranchers and conservationists, Oregon's congressional delegation teamed up with then Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and then-Gov. John Kitzhaber to secure passage of the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Act of 2000 ...wind developers have recently enticed some private landowners on Steens who will profit by the new "green gold rush".
Too much rain means too much water over the dams' spillways, and the resulting turbulence leads to excess dissolved oxygen in the water. That's harmful to fish, so the big dam operators in the region -- the Corps and Bureau of Reclamation -- divert as much water as possible into reservoirs or through the dams turbines to generate electricity. ...Complicating the picture is the region's growing fleet of wind turbines, which have been cranking out extra megawatts as the same storm cells dumping rain into the rivers have whipped wind speeds higher.
Questions are stirring about whether Oregon's future energy demands are enough to merit construction of a new 500-kilovolt transmission line from Boardman to Salem. Portland General Electric says the Cascade Crossing Transmission Project is needed to transmit electricity from existing and future wind farms planned in Eastern Oregon and to meet future energy demands.
Billions of dollars of investment during the past decade have created a wind-power corridor that stretches more than 170 miles along the Columbia in Eastern Washington and Oregon, vaulting the Northwest to the leading edge of national efforts to develop this renewable energy source. But the fickle, roller-coaster nature of generating electricity from the wind is also placing large new strains on efforts to manage the regional power grid.
The Morrow County Planning Commission voted to give the owners of a wind farm six months to comply with state noise regulations. The county approved the 72-megawatt Willow Creek farm in 2005, and turbines began operating in December 2008.