Library from Washington

Wind farm backers say report affirms there's minimal threat to marbled murrelet

Public utilities planning Western Washington's first large wind farm declared Tuesday that the towers would kill less than one threatened marbled murrelet a year over the long run. The claim was greeted with skepticism by state and federal agencies that must OK the project. ..."We don't want to have a wind farm that starts hitting home runs with marbled murrelets and has to be shut down or torn down, or drives the marbled murrelet to extinction."
6 Jan 2010

Desert Claim in governor's hands now

A recommendation to approve the 95-turbine Desert Claim Wind Power Project reached Gov. Chris Gregoire's office on Friday. Starting at that point, the governor has 60 days to approve or reject the estimated $330 million wind farm proposed for eight miles northwest of Ellensburg.
8 Dec 2009

Wind farm meeting addresses residents' concerns

A public meeting Wednesday evening about a proposed $230 million wind farm in the Willapa Hills of West Lewis and East Pacific counties brought a crowd of about 50 people with concerns and questions about the development. The Coyote Crest Wind Park is a project by the EverPower Wind Holdings Company Inc. on land leased by Weyerhaeuser's McDonald tree farm.
4 Dec 2009

EFSEC member: review process flawed; Ian Elliot wants state to do better

Ian Elliot wanted to raise the issue of turbine density in the state's review of the Desert Claim Wind Power Project, but couldn't. The issue wasn't officially entered into evidence by an intervener in the Desert Claim review process, nor was there any expert testimony, studies or other data submitted on the issue by an intervener or the project applicant. ..."I believe the process is flawed because the rights of the local citizens and the obligations of EFSEC do not align," Elliot stated
21 Nov 2009

State council OKs new wind farm project

A state energy council on Monday recommended approval of the 95-turbine Desert Claim Wind Power Project but also put conditions on its future construction and operation eight miles northwest of Ellensburg. The approval is a recommendation to Gov. Chris Gregoire who will make the final decision on the project, which has been sought since January 2003 by the French-owned firm of enXco USA Inc. Gregoire is expected to formally receive the recommendation in early December and has until early February to make her decision.
17 Nov 2009

EFSEC to decide on wind farm on Monday

The state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, or EFSEC, will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Hal Holmes Community Center to consider a recommendation to Gov. Chris Gregoire on whether to approve the 95-turbine, $330 million Desert Claim Wind Power Project. EFSEC officials estimate a final decision by the governor could come in early February 2010 at the latest. The wind farm, proposed by the French-owned firm of enXco USA Inc., is planned for eight miles northwest of Ellensburg spread on 5,200 acres north of Smithson Road.
12 Nov 2009

Will wind farm project fly?

A proposal to build the first wind farm in Western Washington may stall, and may even be doomed, because of concern that turbine blades would kill members of an endangered bird species, a state lawmaker says. "I'm just not feeling real confident that this is going to grab hold and move forward very fast," Rep. Dean Takko, D-Longview, said last week. "There are key players who aren't very supportive, and I think it's going to hold this up. Is it going to kill it? I don't know."
9 Nov 2009

Behind closed doors: council ponders Desert Claim Wind Power Project

The state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, or EFSEC, today resumes deliberations on whether to approve the 95-turbine, $330 million Desert Claim Wind Power Project proposed for eight miles northwest of Ellensburg. EFSEC's seven members were scheduled to gather again behind closed doors in Olympia at 1 p.m. today, according to EFSEC Manager Allen Fiksdal.
22 Oct 2009

Up in the AIR

John Lodahl held the torpedo-like instrument steady while Max Holder calibrated it from inside a metal-skinned microwave station on this cold, windswept hill north of Sunnyside. Satisfied with the readings, Lodahl climbed down from the top of the 30-foot tower on a recent morning, marking the end of a tour that has taken the pair from Astoria, Ore., at the mouth of the Columbia River, to the Horse Heaven Hills in Benton County over the past five weeks.
2 Oct 2009

State lands commissioner wants to branch out to wind, biomass energy

Biomass growing on 2.1 million acres of state forests could be burned to generate electricity or converted to a liquid fuel called methanol, he said. Further, he endorsed the careful expansion of the state's burgeoning wind energy business to the west side of the Cascades - provided the massive towers won't imperil wildlife. ...Wind is not the only renewable energy resource on state lands, he said. Goldmark will sort through 30 proposals for two biomass pilot projects
18 Sep 2009

BPA hopes meter will predict wind

Wind energy and hydropower have a see-saw-like relationship: When one goes up the other goes down. But the Bonneville Power Administration is hoping a small device that looks like a model rocket and weighs a few pounds can help ease the tricky synergy. BPA on Wednesday installed an anemometer to help the power-marketing agency better forecast oncoming wind at the Horse Heaven substation just west of Paterson.
17 Sep 2009

State tables idea of wind farm lease in spotted owl habitat

The Washington Department of Natural Resources is no longer considering leasing 2,560 acres of state trust land to SDS Lumber Co. for possible future expansion of the proposed Whistling Ridge Energy Project in Skamania County. A notice released by the DNR's Ellensburg office on Aug. 10 says the agency "is no longer considering a lease" but could reconsider the option at some future date. "The reason it was withdrawn was because of issues with endangered species," DNR spokesman Aaron Toso said Friday.
22 Aug 2009

BPA to install tools to better track wind

Today the Bonneville Power Administration will install the first of fourteen anemometers to better track where and how hard the wind is blowing. The BPA, which markets power from the Northwest's network of federal hydroelectric dams, has struggled to incorporate increasing amounts of variable wind energy into the region's electric grid.
19 Aug 2009

Ferruginous hawks in decline

Jason Lowe, a biologist with the Bureau of Land Management's Eastern Washington office in Spokane, ...conducted two field surveys this spring and summer, which confirmed what he feared: The hawks are fewer and farther between. Where there were 17 nesting pairs in 1987 in the Juniper Dunes area of Franklin County, only four were spotted last year and just one this year. ...Wind farms are proliferating in Southeast Washington and Northeast Oregon, which is a concern, he said. "Information is not complete, but there have been reports of hawks being hit by the (rotating windmill) blades," he said. While ferruginous hawks are unlikely to nest on ridges where windmills are located, they typically forage for food over a 17-mile radius, and that can include wind farms.
16 Aug 2009

Green power collides with Endangered Species Act

Green power, green jobs, renewable energy collide with the Endangered Species Act in a proposed wind farm in Southwest Washington. The project calling for between 48-60 megawatts of power is proposed for 3,359 acres of Washington Department of Natural Resources land northwest of Naselle, Washington. ...The DNR has the power to stop the project if it deems the project endangers Murrelets.
10 Aug 2009

Cap-and-trade schemes could hurt families and send jobs overseas

Cap-and-trade schemes could hurt families and send jobs overseas The recently passed U.S. House bill to create a cap-and-trade system to tackle greenhouse-gas emissions threatens to hurt families and send jobs out of the country, argues Washington state Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy. In Washington state, the definition of 'green jobs' is ill defined.
6 Aug 2009

When it comes to wind turbines and birds, the interests of both can be protected

With frequent ferocity, The Columbian has expressed editorial support for both: -- Wind energy as an alternative energy source. -- The Endangered Species Act. But what happens when those two advocacies collide, when wind turbines kill birds, especially birds of a threatened species? ...If forced into a corner of mandatory choice, we suspect the proper view would be to support the ESA and the birds, for one simple reason: Extinction is precisely that, irreversible.
5 Aug 2009

Wildlife hinders wind farm strategy; Turbines not the obvious "winner" state initially thought

Today DNR has 24 active wind power leases in various stages. Five wind farms with 65 turbines operate on state trust land, all in Eastern Washington. The leases yield $670,000 a year. However, the DNR failed to consider whether allowing wind turbines on state land might conflict with the compact the state made with the federal government in 1997 when it promised to manage its land in a way that would minimize harm to threatened and endangered species. And Sutherland didn't foresee that some uses might not be compatible with the giant spinning turbine blades that feed renewable energy into the power grid.
1 Aug 2009
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