Library from Washington
A proposal by an Eastern Washington utility consortium to build the state's first coastal wind farm by 2011 has run smack up against the habitat requirements of a threatened seabird. Energy Northwest, based in the Tri-Cities, has signed a lease with the Washington Department of Natural Resources to build a wind farm on 3,359 acres of state trust land near Naselle, in Pacific County.
A proposal to create a 200,000-acre, scenic-protection area to keep out most commercial wind turbines created so much public interest that planning commissioners had to cut their Thursday meeting short, with the promise to continue the public testimony at their next hearing. At the heart of the issue is an amendment to the Umatilla County Comprehensive Plan proposed by Blue Mountain Alliance.
In the space of one hour last month, electricity generated at wind farms in the eastern end of the Columbia River Gorge shot up by 1,000 megawatts -- enough to power some 680,000 homes. Less than an hour later, it plummeted almost as much. In coping with the variations, the BPA has at times adjusted flows through dams at rates that exceeded guidelines established to protect fish. "It is stressful. You have the threat of fish issues on one hand you are trying to prevent, and at the same time you're trying to meet load," she said. The events of June 4 and 5 highlight the challenge facing the agency
A Washington wind farm that its developer calls “one of the premier wind sites in the Pacific Northwest” has been sold to a group of California utilities. ...Why is California buying made-in-Washington wind power? California has much higher electricity rates than Washington, so the wind power premium is proportionately cheaper.
Wind-powered generators dominate the landscape along the eastern Oregon reaches of the Columbia River. Managing their intermittent power output has become a major issue for the Bonneville Power Administration. ...By October, the agency intends to establish a system to knock wind farms off its transmission grid when they are operating so far outside their scheduled output that it threatens to exhaust the agency's hydro reserves.
Fire crews expect to have a wildland fire near a Kittitas County wind farm contained by this evening. ...She said the lack of significant wind has helped the 20-person DNR crew working on the fire. DNR is also using helicopters to drop water on the fire.
A state energy council will soon begin deliberations on whether to recommend approval of the proposed Desert Claim Wind Power Project now that formal hearings on the wind farm concluded Monday in Ellensburg. Members of the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, or EFSEC, will take with them two main messages heard Monday at an evening hearing from citizens, property owners and group representatives.
With what brought them together blowing strongly outside, Kittitas County residents had one last chance Monday to public express their views on the proposed Desert Claim wind farm, northwest of here. While the wind blew in one direction throughout a hearing attended by more than 60 people at the Hal Holmes Center, the feelings of residents went both ways.
Monday's formal adjudication hearing in Ellensburg on the proposed Desert Claim Wind Power Project may take less time than other county wind farms that have come before the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, or EFSEC.
The Maryhill Museum of Art has defied convention since it opened, with its utopian origin, eclectic collection and even its location making the green-lawned mansion an incongruous landmark on a desolate ridge above the Columbia River. Now the nonprofit museum's individuality extends into the realm of renewable energy.
It is well known that raptors commonly fly at an altitude that puts them at particular risk for collision with wind power blades. Proper siting was touted as the key to green wind power. So why is wind power being sited in an Audubon Important Bird Area, and why is that Important Bird Area slated for border to border wind power development? The answer is simple. Instead of proper planning, Northwest wind power is being allowed to develop wherever infrastructure is available and politicians are agreeable.
Tonight the Umatilla County Planning Commission meets to discuss whether to adopt an amendment to the county's comprehensive plan that would ban giant wind turbines. ...The Blue Mountains are a resource shared by folks who live in Southeastern Washington and Northeastern Oregon. Anything that changes that resource is cause for concern, which is why we believe the "No Turbine Zone" amendment is worth considering.
A National Park Service official says a wind project proposed for a Skamania County site just outside the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area would intrude on the experiences of people traveling two national historic trails. Both the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and the Oregon Pioneer Historic Trail pass through the Gorge, and both also pass within five miles of where turbines would rise at the Whistling Ridge Wind Project, said Rory D. Westberg, the Park Service's deputy regional director for planning and resource management.
A proposed wind farm on a forested ridge in eastern Skamania County could harm bats, raptors and other wildlife, a state wildlife biologist says. ... Ritter, a wind mitigation biologist based in Pasco, said the survey data on bats was "extremely interesting and alarming."
A state wildlife biologist says the Whistling Ridge Wind Project, proposed for a timbered ridge in eastern Skamania County, could cause high wildlife mortality, especially for bats and raptors. Surveys of the 1,152-acre site, including those done for the applicant, Bingen-based SDS Lumber Co., show the area is heavily used by bats, raptors and other birds, biologist Michael Ritter said in formal comments to the state agency that will decide whether to approve the project.
The Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project, a wind farm planned for northwest of Ellensburg, is calling on a state energy council to reduce the number of its wind turbines and towers from 65 to a maximum 52. Major construction on the project is set to start in early spring 2010.
Despite our region's decades-old dependence on hydropower as a reliable, reasonably clean and inexpensive power source, Washingtonians have embraced the concept of extracting energy from wind. In 2006, 52 percent of voters approved Initiative 937, requiring large utilities to increase renewable energy sources to 15 percent of their power production by 2020. Still, wind energy in the Northwest has raised valid concerns. For example, last month a golden eagle was killed at a wind tower southeast of Goldendale; it was believed to be the state's first casualty of an eagle killed by a wind turbine.
A potential wind farm envisioned straddling a ridgeline near Larch Mountain in east Clark County has been put on hold. The state Department of Natural Resources, anticipating a boom in wind energy development spilling across the west side of the Cascades, wants more information before it considers leasing western state forests to wind farmers.
A golden eagle died last month when it collided with a wind turbine blade at a 47-turbine wind farm in Klickitat County. The April 27 collision at the Goodnoe Hills Wind Project southeast of Goldendale was the first known eagle casualty caused by a Washington wind project. "I don't know of any other eagle fatalities in the state in connection with colliding with a turbine blade," said Travis Nelson, the state's lead wildlife biologist on wind power issues. He called the incident "unfortunate."
Frustration emerged on the face of Yakama elder Johnson Meninick as he walked along a dirt access road in the Windy Flats wind farm project just south of town. The road, intended to make way for another series of wind turbines in the 88-turbine project, follows a ridge overlooking the Columbia River Gorge and is flanked by dozens of rock cairns -- historical footprints of his ancestors -- and colorful wildflowers and rare medicinal plants.