Documents from Washington
This critical study demonstrates the direct connection between wind energy deployment and the dangerous decline in bat populations, particularly involving the Hoary bat, which existed in abundance throughout the United States until recently. The researchers show that White Noise Syndrome is not a factor in the decline across the Pacific Northwest area. The full report can be accessed by clicking the document links on this page.
Friends of the Columbia Gorge and Save Our Scenic Area have petitioned the court to review Bonneville Power Administration’s ("BPA") June 24, 2015 Record of Decision (“ROD”) approving the interconnection of the Whistling Ridge Energy Project to BPA’s electricity transmission system, based on BPA’s analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”). This detailed brief filed on behalf of the groups provides an informative description of the circumstances surrounding BPA's decision and how the petitioners argue the NEPA provisions were incorrectly applied. A portion of the brief is provided below. The full document as filed with the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals can be accessed by clicking the link on this page.
In this important ruling, the Supreme Court of the State of Washington upheld the Court of Appeals order that Skamania failed to follow the requirements under the Growth Management Act.
Friends of the Columbia Gorge and Save Our Scenic Area, two non-profit conservation advocacy organizations missioned with protecting the Columbia River Gorge region, provided these comprehensive comments to the Bonneville Power Administration in reference to the proposed Whistling Ridge Wind Energy project. The project, owned by SDS Lumber Company, would consist of 50, 1.2 to 1.5 MW turbines. The opening portion and conclusion of the letter is provided below. The full comment letter can be accessed by clicking the link(s) on this page.
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.
The Washington State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (WA EFSEC) recently recommended approval, with conditions, of 35 turbines as part of the Whistling Ridge wind energy project. Fifty turbines were defined in the original plan submitted to the State. The final adjudicative order can be downloaded through the links at the bottom of the page. Of particular interest, readers are encouraged to reference the concurring opinion filed by the Council's chairman, James Luce, and included in the order. An excerpt of his letter is provided below.
Renewable energy on the Pacific Northwest's electricity grid has increased substantially over the years, and this is leading to a number of problems. For the Pacific Northwest, renewable energy expansion truly means wind energy expansion because it is the closest to being market-competitive of all renewable energy sources. Wind power, like hydroelectric power, is clean (i.e., carbon-free in its production), and this remains a large part of policymakers' attraction to wind. While the negative aspects of wind power are apparent, they are often overlooked. Ever increasing wind generation will have a significant impact on the reliability and affordability of electricity in the Pacific Northwest that very well might outweigh any of the claimed environmental benefits. This consise report by the Cascade Policy Institute examines the costs and impacts of wind power integration in the Pacific Northwest.
Front page of the Northern Kittitas County Tribune paper featuring the article entitled "EFSEC bias suspected".
This press release provided by the County Prosecutor's office of Kittitas County in Washington State discloses evidence of bias on the part of the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council in its decision to recommend that Governor Christine Gregoire overrule the local authority and approve the Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project.
The November passage of Initiative 937 adds Washington to the states with renewable portfolio standards. Wind-powered generation is a resource of choice in meeting renewable standards, and it has been highly touted for its environmental benefits. Considered in isolation, the environmental benefits of a wind resource are undoubtedly warranted. However, it is misleading to consider wind on an isolated basis—that is, outside of the context of the full power-supply portfolio that is necessary to serve load. In the context of an integrated portfolio, much of the environmental benefit disappears and may even be non-existent as compared with other resource portfolio choices. In particular, a full assessment of the impact of wind resources on the environment necessitates a look at the energy consequences of adding wind-generation to an integrated portfolio in the context of meeting load. Accounting for energy, it is likely that there is no significant environmental difference between a resource portfolio adding wind generation and one adding high-efficiency combined-cycle gas turbines. It is also likely that the wind-based portfolio results in little reduction, if any, in the need for fossil fuels and therefore little reduction in the exposure to their price swings and environmental consequences. That is, the emissions and fossil-fuel impacts of a wind-based portfolio appear little better than a non-wind-based portfolio. Editor's Note: This paper makes a critically important point re. wind's purported environmental benefits, i.e. "...it is misleading to consider wind on an isolated basis—that is, outside of the context of the full power-supply portfolio that is necessary to serve load. In the context of an integrated portfolio, much of the environmental benefit disappears and may even be non-existent as compared with other resource portfolio choices." In short, wind's environmental benefits (if any) will be grid-specific depending on the emissions generated (if any) of the reliable generating source(s) required to back it up.
The Role of Wind Energy in a Power Supply Portfolio ....Wind is primarily an energy resource that makes relatively little contribution to meeting system peak loads. Even with large amounts of wind, the Northwest will still need to build other generating resources to meet growing peak load requirements.......But wind energy cannot provide reliable electric service on its own. When wind energy is added to a utility system, its natural variability and uncertainty is combined with the natural variability and uncertainty of loads. This increases the need for flexible resources such as hydro, gas-fired power plants, or dispatchable loads to maintain utility system balance and reliability across several different timescales. The demand for this flexibility increases with the amount of wind in the system.
Editor's Note Presented on October 20th during the 2006 Electric Market Forecasting Conference sponsored by EPIS, Inc. this addresses, in part, the issue of whether emissions are reduced with the addition of industrial wind energy. This is a large pdf file (8.55MB) and is available via the weblink below.
Recent demonstrations have targeted the four lower Snake River dams as unimportant and obsolete. This argument casually discards the fact that the dams generate enough electricity to energize a city the size of Seattle. At a time when concerns about climate change dominate headlines, our dams are emission and fuel free. Electric energy generated by the federal dams greatly reduces our dependence on imported oil and natural gas. Dams truly are our region’s home grown renewable energy resource.
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.
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.
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. "