Library from Washington
But partly because hydroelectric power is not included as a renewable resource in the proposed initiative's current form, several of the state's public utilities worry that the initiative could drive up costs and hurt rural economies.
Kittitas County officials have declared complete the application for the 64-turbine Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project, a wind farm proposed for 13 miles northwest of Ellensburg.
The state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council has agreed to grant $1.3 million to a trust for the purchase of land near the Wild Horse Wind Power project in Kittitas County. The money would be used to preserve habitat for elk and sage grouse.
Kittitas County commissioners on Tuesday unanimously rejected a proposal to change how the county handles wind farm projects and said the county’s current wind farm siting ordinance provides ample public involvement and environmental safeguards.
Kittitas County Superior Court Judge Michael Cooper on Friday ruled that county commissioners acted legally and within their authority to deny approval of the Desert Claim Wind Power Project earlier this year.
That windmills retain a mystical popularity among its Northwest supporters, is truly a triumph of hope over substance, not to mention unawareness of hidden costs and poor performance data. There is a huge amount of information now available regarding wind energy from around the United States and Europe. It’s not good news.
Workers at the Hopkins Ridge Wind Farm, near Dayton in Columbia County, assemble turbines in October 2005. Hopkins Ridge, owned by Puget Sound Energy, has been generating electricity for customers since November 2005.
ROKT (Residents Opposed to Kittitas Turbines) represents several hundred Kittitas County residents and landowners strongly opposed to EnXco’s Desert Claim windfarm. Our main objection is to the location of EnXco’s project - a scenic residential area only a few miles out of town. Other locations maybe acceptable – if there are benefits to the county from a windfarm then these benefits still accrue wherever it is located.
We are in continued public hearings to consider the application of the Desert Claim Wind Farm. I would like to remind everybody that the record is closed at this point for public testimony. What we are doing this evening is we have taken receipt - and we did that actually midpoint last week - of the revised development agreement for the project. What we intend to do this evening is to engage in Board discussion in terms of setting a timeline for further review and any other comment as the Board deems appropriate and then ideally with instructions to staff in terms of how we proceed from this date.
THIS DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT (“Agreement”) is entered into and effective this __ day of _______, 2004, by and between Kittitas County, a Washington municipal corporation (“County”) and Desert Claim Wind Power LLC, a Washington limited liability company (“Desert Claim”). This Agreement is made pursuant to Revised Code of Washington (“RCW”) 36.70B.170, Kittitas County Code (“KCC”) Chapter 15A.11, and KCC Chapter 17.61A, and relates to the Desert Claim Wind Power Project.
Counsel for the Environment (CFE) appreciates this opportunity to comment on the Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project (KVWPP) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). CFE takes no position in support or opposition of the KVWPP at this time. The following comments seek to ensure the Final Environmental Impact Statement provides the public with the most detailed information possible on the environmental impacts of the proposed wind power project.
3.8 Health & Safety Affected Environment, Environmental Impacts and Mitigation Measures "A number of comments submitted for the scoping process for the Desert Claim project EIS addressed concerns relating to potential health and safety issues. Specific topics indicated in these comments included certain possible hazards that are uniquely associated with wind turbines, such as blade throw and ice throw; health and safety issues associated with electrical and magnetic fields; more common hazards such as fire; and the incidence and impacts of shadow flicker, another phenomenon specific to wind turbines. Section 3.8 addresses these wide-ranging health and safety topics that have been identified as concerns for the environmental review. "
Q. Has the applicant demonstrated a good faith effort to resolve noncompliance issues? A. The brief answer is no. When Zilkha Renewable Energy applied to EFSEC for permits in January 2003 they made no attempt at that time to apply to Kittitas County in a timely manner in order to resolve non-compliance issues. It took the applicant five months to complete a short application. The (initial) applications to the County were not complete. They had major flaws like the application not being signed, not providing a list of property owners within 300' of the project site, not providing the signatures of the landowners within the project area, and stating that they were only applying for certain permits from the County but not those required (to achieve compliance). The major flaws within each submittal were the most basic elements of the application and listed on the front page of the application. In all the years I have been a Land Use Planner I have never had an applicant provide an application with so many fundamental flaws so many times. I cannot help but think that this was a strategy of Zilkha's all along. This issue was even brought up to the applicant when they continually delayed submitting a complete application to the County. When a complete application was finally received I sent out the Notice of Application within one week. This was the first and only action that the County had control over and it was completed in a timely manner. Zilkha Renewable Energy knew that we were relying on the DEIS to be published which is why we could not give them a conclusive date when the County would hold hearings. On numerous occasions between June and October 2003 we let Zilkha know how much time it would take the County to process their application once an adequate DEIS was complete and the process was in our hands. When the DEIS completion date was pushed back so was our timeframe.
Q. In your experience, do adjacent land uses affect property values? A. Yes. It's been my experience property values are directly affected by neighboring land uses. For example, property uses that create noise, light, glare, and other such nuisances often negatively affect property values.
This document [DEIS] has not provided any demonstrable public need for the insignificant amount of power this facility is capable of producing. No valid, compelling local (or even statewide) economic reasons were offered to potentially offset the overwhelming negative impacts that will result if built. This DEIS is abundant in quantity, but extremely lacking in quality of scientific analysis and entirely deficient in analysis in certain areas. Various mitigations offered are unacceptable or unworkable. The following are areas of analysis that were either deficient or not performed at all:............
Study Objectives Primary Analysis Questions: 1) Determine effect of wind turbines on residential property values 2) Determine economic impacts to local economy 3) Estimate new tax revenues for Kittitas County from proposed wind farm. This study along with the REPP study are the two most often cited by wind developers to support their claim that industrial windplants do not adversely affect property values.
ECO-Northwest’s 1-month, $15,000 study, sponsored by the local business lobby organization, the Phoenix Group, has been met with deep skepticism in the Kittitas Valley. Regardless of how people feel about wind farms in this valley, most people recognize this report as simply a blatant endorsement of proposed local wind energy projects, bought and paid for by those behind these projects. A local newspaper story about ECO Northwest’s report titled “Are Wind Farm Benefits Full of Hot Air?” (The Yakima Herald-Republic, 10/2102) reflects this public skepticism about the impartiality of this study. The report makes the incredible claim that property values will not be affected and the unsubstantiated claim that the county will receive millions of dollars in increased revenue. Although the wind energy companies state that they will hire only 22 people, the report manages to inflate this to 53 jobs and claims that these people will somehow result in an additional $4.2m being spent within the county. ECO Northwest’s report also neglects to consider the effect of major wind farms on tourism, one of the most important factors in the local economy. It does not consider alternative locations for such projects, or alternative forms of renewable energy in Kittitas County, or whether the county will benefit from the power generated. Nor does it consider that the proposed location for these wind farms is an area that the city of Ellensburg will need for future expansion of its population, an area that will be closed off for housing if wind farms are built there.
Dr. David M. Lipscomb PhD provided this testimony before the State of Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council involving the risks of noise emissions from then proposed Sumas Generating Plant on human health. An excerpt of the testimony is provided below. The full testimony can be downloaded by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.