Library from Washington
Longview realtor Bill Hallanger has been pressing the committee to draft a policy so he can put up an $8,000 windmill he bought from an Arizona company earlier this year. ...County officials say they must review proposals like Hallanger's to protect neighbors from noise and other impacts.
The unanimous decision by the state's highest court that upheld the governor's approval of the Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project has stirred both disappointment and jubilation, depending on how one views the role of state and local government. Those opposed to the site of the 65-turbine wind farm 12 miles north of Ellensburg say the decision bodes ill for local governments.
Wind power advocates won a convincing battle in the Washington Supreme Court, which ruled Thursday that local county commissioners can't block the way for wind power turbine farms. In a unanimous verdict (one justice didn't participate), the court ruled that Kittitas County commissioners couldn't stop the construction of a wind power farm on Highway 97 about halfway between Cle Elum and Ellensburg.
The state Supreme Court has upheld Gov. Chris Gregoire's approval of a wind farm in Kittitas County, despite the objections of local officials.
Kittitas County commissioners approved on Tuesday the expansion of the project area of the Wild Horse Wind Power Project to accommodate the addition of 22 turbines. The 8,600-acre, 127-turbine project east of Ellensburg is owned and operated by Bellevue-based Puget Sound Energy, which has plans to add the turbines to the current project area and to a newly purchased area of about 1,260 acres on the north side of the existing project. ... The new acreage includes about 960 acres purchased by PSE and lands leased from the state Department of Natural Resources and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Landowners could erect 100-foot-tall wind energy towers on their property, and their neighbors wouldn't be notified or get a chance to comment, under new rules the County Council is considering. The draft law aims to make it easier for people to take advantage of wind turbines, an environmentally friendly and renewable form of electricity, to help power their homes. "It's a great thing if people can produce their own clean energy," said County Council member Barbara Brenner, who, along with council member Carl Weimer, pushed for rules allowing residential wind energy systems. "My biggest concern is if we make it too difficult or cumbersome to get through the process, probably a lot of people who would have done it won't."
Wind power has been proposed in letters to the editor as a good option to LNG, but there is no silver bullet solution to our energy needs, as far as I can see. Because wind power depends on the wind, it is an unreliable source of electrical power. Wind power must be backed up by a more reliable conventional power source. That power source is LNG. As wind power develops out, more LNG power plants will be built to back up wind power. Wind power cannot replace LNG; it will, instead, make LNG more necessary.
Wind turbines are the latest popular "answer" to our country's energy problems with talk of three-bladed monsters covering vast areas from Texas northward. T. Boone Pickens is spending millions to promote his vision of generating 20 percent of our energy from wind power (although he refuses to install any of the turbines on his own 120,000 acre ranch). ...The variability of wind power makes it very difficult for power companies to integrate wind power into their grid and still maintain the stable power supply required to avoid user-operating problems. This is a particularly severe problem if wind power is a large portion of the total power output.
Four months ago, Longview Realtor Bill Hallanger bought an $8,000 windmill from an Arizona company and set out to put it up on the nearly 8 acres he owns on Nevada Drive. Hallanger figured the project would be a fun experiment. He'd learn about renewable energy and maybe shave a little money off his electric bill. But the project has taken on a more urgent purpose. Despite looming worries about energy prices and supply shortages, the technology isn't yet covered by the county's zoning laws, and that has stalled Hallanger's effort.
Picture 400 super-size windmills spinning in a steady, stiff ocean breeze just beyond the horizon off the Washington coast, generating enough electricity to supply the needs of Seattle and Tacoma. Now picture thousands of similar windmills off California, New England, the mid-Atlantic, the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. Even as Congress is embroiled in a sharp debate over whether to allow increased offshore oil and gas drilling, others are seriously working to develop a green source of energy along the outer continental shelf.
With Washington's biggest utility about to be bought by foreigners, public power advocates in four counties are hoping to switch their portions of the grid to local control. Voters will decide in November.
Wind power's intermittency as an energy resource but minimal contributions toward peak-capacity needs are further evidenced in operational data from three Washington and Montana wind farms. Monthly and even daily energy production vary substantially. Officials from NorthWestern Energy and Puget Sound Energy recently shared these and other wind-power experiences, including reserve requirements (challenging) and wind forecasting (improving). These tales come from the 135 MW-capacity Judith Gap wind farm in central Montana, whose entire output NorthWestern buys from developer Invenergy Wind, and PSE's 150 MW-capacity Hopkins Ridge and 229 MW-capacity Wild Horse wind projects in southeastern and central Washington, respectively. ..."The relationship between load and wind output is almost zero," the former council member told the current council. "That's a real issue for us. We continue to learn almost every day some things about wind operations on our system."
The state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council announced it will conduct a public hearing 7 p.m. Aug. 6 at Central Washington University to examine a request to expand the acreage of the Wild Horse Wind Power Project and add 26 wind turbines to the wind farm located 17 miles east of Ellensburg.
Kittitas County commissioners have selected attorneys with a Wenatchee firm to provide land-use hearings examiner services that will begin when a contract with the firm is signed. ...The hearings examiner will conduct public hearings on subdivisions or plats, rezones when they are connected to a subdivision project, cluster plats, development agreements, planned unit developments, resorts and wind farms when they are proposed within the east-county wind resource zone. These hearings are now conducted by the county Planning Commission. The examiner will then make a recommendation to county commissioners who make the final decision on the proposals. The Planning Commission will continue to make recommendations on changes to the county comprehensive plan and land-use codes and on proposals from the three citizen advisory committees and rezones not connected to a subdivision.
EnXco, one of two unscrupulous commercial wind power developers who are attempting to despoil the west end of the Kittitas Valley, is back in the county. They recently placed a full-page ad in the 4th of July Daily Record supplement implying they were a member of the community and positioning themselves as "one of America's premier wind energy companies." ...To set the record straight, a member of the community does not circumvent local land-use authority for the permitting of wind energy projects by asking unelected state EFSEC bureaucrats to pre-empt our elected commissioners' decision to reject their project as originally designed. A member of the community does not knowingly impact his neighbors under the guise of "helping" the larger community when in fact the real purpose is to further their own profits.
The state Supreme Court is weighing whether it has jurisdiction in Kittitas County's appeal of a wind farm 12 miles northwest of Ellensburg. The court held a hearing Thursday on whether it should weigh in on the case. Last September, Gov. Chris Gregoire approved the Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project, as recommended by the state's Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council.
"In its simplest terms, it's about who should make the land-use decisions for Kittitas County residents," said James Carmody, lawyer for the citizen wind farm opposition group Residents Opposed to Kittitas Turbines. "Is it county elected representatives or a group of unelected bureaucrats? We say local government should make that final decision." Assistant Attorney General Kyle Crews said there are debatable issues raised by the county about the EFSEC statute, "but the actions of the governor, the applicant and EFSEC were all done lawfully."
Another wind energy company has jumped into the sweepstakes to build a wind farm along a ridge on state-owned timberland in east Clark County. It marks the latest sign that an already-booming wind industry is starting to trickle west across the Cascade Range. Horizon Wind Energy, which also is proposing a 120-megawatt project currently under court challenge by Kittitas County officials, filed an application to lease 5,400 acres from the state Department of Natural Resources in the Larch Mountain area of Clark County. By meeting a Monday deadline, Horizon will vie for the lease in an auction with a Portland-based subsidiary of enXco Inc.
The Washington state Supreme Court will hear a challenge June 26 to state authorization of a major new wind power project planned in Kittitas County. At issue is approval of Horizon Wind Energy LLC's Kittitas Valley project by Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and the Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council. A local citizens group called Kittitas County and Residents Opposed to Kittitas Turbines challenged the siting council's and the governor's authority to pre-empt local land use regulations as well as other legal matters.
A proposed wind farm development Washington is creating some controversy. While the plan is still in the very early stages, the designers envision placing wind turbines on a ridge near Larch Mountain, east of Battle Ground. ...A proposed wind farm development Washington is creating some controversy. While the plan is still in the very early stages, the designers envision placing wind turbines on a ridge near Larch Mountain, east of Battle Ground.