Library from Washington
The Washington State Supreme Court has upheld the approval of a controversial wind farm in Skamania County, turning back a legal challenge from two advocacy groups that aimed to block it. ...Still, the court found that some issues raised in the challenge were "not ripe" for resolution. Should the project advance, additional review will give Friends and other groups the chance to weigh in.
On Aug. 15 the county's planning official dropped the Mill Creek firm's proposal from a list of county land-use changes that would be considered for possible approval by the end of the this year. ...In a letter to Columbia Plateau’s project manager Doug Mitchell of Ellensburg, Hansen said the firm’s application had inadequate information on whether Columbia Plateau had legal access to the project’s proposed site.
PSE spokesman Ray Lane said he's awaiting word if wind farm employees can come back to the facility to check on the condition of turbines and associated high-tech equipment that might be affected by soot and ash that's fallen from the fire ...The turbines have been in "paused" mode as the fire approached and are not generating electricity. Lane said evaluation today may allow to go back into operation, or it could be another day before they are operational.
Touted as a green solution to feed our nation's hunger for energy, wind farms are also blamed for killing millions of birds. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates 440,000 birds are killed nationwide each year by wind farms. The number is expected to reach one million per year by 2030. ..."What we don't want to be 10 - 15 years down the road is like the dams, another clean cheap form of energy that turns out to have huge impacts on salmon. It's very hard to go back and retrofit facilities once they're on the ground."
These appeal documents challenge decisions made by the Washington State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council and former WA Governor Christine O. Gregoire in approving the Whistling Ridge Energy Project, a 75 megawatt wind energy project proposed to be sited in Skamania County in the Columbia River Gorge. The appeal was filed by Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Inc., and Save Our Scenic Area. Excerpts of the opening and reply briefs filed by the appellants are provided below. The complete documents can be accessed by clicking on the link(s) at the bottom of the page.
Gary Kahn argued the case for the Friends of the Columbia Gorge. He says the group wants more investigation into some parts of the wind farm application. "Everyone involved in the siting process must do everything to assure all the applicable requirements are met," Kahn said.
You might have seen wind turbines springing up all over the Northwest in the past decade. This year, the region's wind industry has faced a different story. Not a single new wind farms is under construction in the Northwest.
A wind turbine at the city of Ellensburg's Renewable Energy Park toppled over on Monday, buckling under wind speeds of more than 30 mph and gusts as high as 45 mph. Gary Nystedt, city resource manager, said city staff will start going through the turbine's wind speed data to figure out exactly when it came down.
The Whistling Ridge Energy Project received a green light ...But the decision scaled back the original proposal, reducing the number of wind turbines from 50 to 35. The outcome didn't leave the project developers or its opponents entirely happy. Construction never started. Opponents, led by Portland-based advocacy group Friends of the Columbia Gorge, mounted a legal challenge that's now landed before the state's highest court.
A year after Longview resident Ken Spring installed a vintage windmill on his 3-acre property without a permit, the City Council adopted new zoning rules that allow for small wind energy systems.
The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) this week released a new proposal to share the "oversupply costs" that pile up when there is not enough demand for all the electricity produced by hydroelectric dams and wind-power producers. During these oversupply periods, when wind-power producers may be asked to shut down, the plan would compensate them for lost revenue, according to Doug Johnson, a BPA spokesman.
A retired Western Washington University professor testified to a Republican-controlled state Senate committee Tuesday that climate change stopped in 1998 and that human-caused greenhouse gases are not responsible for fluctuations in the Earth's temperatures or melting polar ice caps.
Californians don't want Washington state's electricity as much as they used to. In 2011, the California Legislature passed laws that encourage utilities to generate most of their renewable power from within the state. That left up to $5 billion worth of proposed projects for Washington and Oregon suddenly without investors. ...The price of natural gas has been low, making renewable energy such as solar and wind less attractive.
The governor is correct that reclassifying hydropower would wreck Initiative 937. That exposes the true purpose of the measure, to force a massive investment in the only form of renewable power even remotely practical - wind. That is accomplished by extracting the funds from the ratepayers of the Northwest, through utilities that today and in the future mostly need no additional power to meet their load.
Gov. Jay Inslee is trying to lure a struggling Massachusetts wind-power company to Washington state. In one of his first initiatives as governor, Inslee sent a handwritten note and spoke by phone with the chief executive of AMSC, a Devens, Mass.-based firm.
Wind is free. Converting it to electricity is not. It appears the cost falls to us, even for power we do not want or need. The generators of wind power demand we pay for electricity they do not make, and ensure their profits from taxpayer subsidies they do not receive.
Nationally, wind energy producers face competition from falling natural gas prices. Plus, it's unclear whether a much-relied-upon federal tax credit for wind energy producers will be renewed. ...Regionally, transmission lines are at capacity in some places. Markets are getting tougher. Also, wind farm operators complain that property taxes have risen steeply under a new state formula.
A new campaign to change the state Energy Independence Act was launched Thursday in the Mid-Columbia to prevent rising electricity rates to pay for unneeded renewable energy. Mid-Columbia state legislators, chambers of commerce, ports, business organizations, cities and public utility districts are backing the effort to prevent or delay increased electricity rates.
Portland-based Friends of the Columbia Gorge is charging the county with "failing to protect its critical areas and resource lands in violation of state law." The land, while unzoned, had been protected until Skamania lifted a development and forest work moratorium on Aug. 21.
The GOP has taken Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee to task for promoting the green energy industry as a way to bolster the state's economy, claiming many such companies are failing or teetering.