Articles filed under General from Washington

Reactions mixed on county wind farm appeal

The reaction to the Monday announcement that Kittitas County commissioners will mount a legal appeal against Gov. Chris Gregoire's approval of the 65-turbine Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project was not surprising: project supporters are disappointed, but those against the location of the 6,000-acre wind farm like the challenge. Others indicated the legal action is welcome in that the state Supreme Court may answer, once and for all, whether land-use decisions made by local governments and their elected officials have a stronger legal standing than state actions to overrule those decisions.
10 Oct 2007

County will take governor to court

Kittitas County commissioners on Monday agreed to take Gov. Chris Gregoire to the state's highest court to challenge her Sept. 18 decision approving the controversial 65-turbine, $150 million Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project, a wind farm proposed for 12 miles northwest of Ellensburg. Commissioners, after a closed executive session, instructed the county Prosecutor's Office to file the appeal in Thurston County Superior Court, the first step before going to the state Supreme Court. ...the commissioners rejected the wind farm because environmental impacts were not adequately mitigated or lessened.
10 Oct 2007

EFSEC process, not ROKT, delayed wind farms

The EFSEC hearings were a rubber stamp process because to my knowledge none of the EFSEC members other than the presiding officer asked any questions in the hearings. ...I feel a more important issue was that the EFSEC process violated the Washington State Growth Management Act which has local government settling growth issues. The state should stay out of it.
6 Oct 2007

Wind Turbine Proposal for Puget Metro Area Could Show Hypocrisy

We suspect that wind power projects in more sparsely populated Eastern Washington will generally have decidedly more chance of approval by politicians because there are fewer voters affected. And that folks in the Seattle area, for example, will always prefer benefiting from wind turbines that are located in the hinterlands so their aesthetic sensibilities aren't offended.
21 Sep 2007

Gregoire may OK disputed project

Gov. Chris Gregoire any day will announce her widely anticipated decision about whether to permit a controversial wind power project near Ellensburg that previously was rejected by Kittitas County commissioners. The decision may have statewide implications. For some, project approval would amount to an egregious case of Olympia trampling over a local government's legal rights to make its own decisions about land use. "I think it's huge," said Benton County Commissioner Leo Bowman. "It's bigger than what most of us have thought about." For others, approving the Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project is the only practical solution in a state where voters have approved an initiative requiring more environmentally friendly power plants.
12 Sep 2007

Lumber company will apply to build Skamania wind farm

SDS Lumber Co. plans to apply for a permit before year's end to build a wind farm in Skamania County that would produce up to 70 megawatts of power. The project would be on a north-south ridge at elevations of 2,000 to 2,200 feet between Underwood Mountain and Whistling Ridge. The remote property lies east of the old mill town of Willard and about a mile north of the Columbia River Gorge ­National Scenic Area boundary. ...Dennis White, an environmental activist who lives in the Klickitat County community of Husum, said a regional discussion needs to take place about the cumulative effects of wind generation facilities in the Columbia Gorge. "Wherever there's a BPA line, we're going to have these wind farms just outside the scenic area, up and down the gorge," White said.
5 Sep 2007

Judge rejects attempt to halt wind farm project

Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Donald W. Schacht denied a petition Friday for review of a Columbia County conditional use permit for construction and operation of a 90 megawatt wind farm project. Petitioners Eric and Elizabeth Thorn, Gary and Joann Grendahl and James Peterson filed the petition in the Walla Walla court May 23.
1 Sep 2007

When local, state priorities collide, nobody is happy

No one expects big infrastructure projects to drop in smoothly. From runways to sewer plants, these things often have negative spillover effects - traffic, noise or appearance. No one wants them. And while the nuisances may not be trivial, neither should they be determinative. While the downside impacts tend to be extremely local, the benefits generally extend well beyond the region. Politically, that creates a difficult dynamic. Local politicians have little to gain by supporting projects opposed by their constituents. And the diffuse benefit rarely translates to the kind of political pressure generated by those who are affected adversely.
29 Aug 2007

Congressman worried about wind farm decision

Congressman Doc Hastings told Gov. Chris Gregoire on Friday he's concerned that a final approval by her of a controversial wind farm in Kittitas County will set a negative precedent that says county government's wind power project review process is of no value. Hastings, a Republican from Pasco who represents Kittitas County as part of the 4th Congressional District, sent a letter Friday to Gregoire addressing his concerns centered on the Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project, a 65-turbine wind farm planned for 12 miles northwest of Ellensburg and sought by Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy. Hastings urged Gregoire, a Democrat, to consider "the potential implications of setting aside the lawful policies of locally elected officials - not only for future wind farm development, but also for power project siting in Washington generally," according to a news release and a statement from Hastings.
20 Aug 2007

EFSEC did not answer governor’s question

This whole EFSEC process has only shown how totally corrupted the siting of energy facilities has become in Washington state. If Gov. Gregoire wants to really show that "local sentiment about this project is just as important to her as it was for the Wild Horse Project," then a good first step would be to deny the KVWPP as designed and then appoint a new EFSEC chairperson that will not accept the role of mouthpiece for any special interest business group that may want to make an obscene amount of money on the backs of non-participating land owners. If this project is the precedent for siting renewable energy projects in the future, no one will win. Litigation will become the norm and commercial wind power will become even more economically unviable - if that is even possible.
18 Aug 2007

Wind power catches on; towers not so popular

Technical glitches remain a major hurdle to the spread of wind power. The turbines need to be connected to electrical companies and people and businesses through power lines -- like the ones that link your house to the pole on the street, but bigger. The trouble is, these transmission lines often don't extend into the isolated places where the wind blows most strongly. Or if they do, there's not enough room in them to carry all the juice. And while technology has made wind turbines more efficient at squeezing power out of gentler breezes, it can't make the wind blow all the time. So energy from wind turbines must be paired with energy from more reliable sources such as dams, coal or gas plants.
16 Aug 2007

New energy sources could easily overload power network

There's a big obstacle to creating a shiny techno-green future by adding wind, sun and wave energy to our power system: the grid. The nation's electric power transmission system, aka the grid, could be imagined as an overworked tangle of fraying household wires repeatedly spliced together by your grandfather, who refuses to call the electrician. It is based on century-old technology and, from a modern management perspective, is dumb. Often, it's likened to the nation's highway system. But one local utilities executive said that is wishful thinking. "More like a collection of New England country lanes," said Roger Garratt, resource acquisition manager for Puget Sound Energy.
14 Aug 2007

EFSEC answers the governor

A state energy council on Wednesday agreed to tell Gov. Chris Gregoire that a wind farm planned northwest of Ellensburg must make as its "highest priority" efforts to lengthen the distance between turbines and homes of people not leasing their land to the wind power company. The effort would come when the company decides on the exact location of each tower in a process called micro-siting, which occurs prior to construction. The governor, when she receives the council reply early next week, will have 60 days to make a final decision on the controversial 65-turbine, $150 million Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project planned by Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy for 12 miles northwest of Ellensburg.
9 Aug 2007

Approve wind farm, agency tells Gregoire

For a second time, a Washington state agency has recommended that the governor approve a proposed central Washington wind farm over the objections of Kittitas County citizens and officials. The state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council had recommended that Gov. Chris Gregoire approve the Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project in March, but Gregoire asked the council to reconsider whether the turbines should be set farther away from land owned by others. Neighboring landowners and local officials have argued against the project for five years, saying it will have negative environmental and visual impacts.
9 Aug 2007

Kittitas wind project one step closer to being built

A controversial wind farm in Kittitas County is one step closer to generating energy. Today the State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) recommended the Horizon Wind Project go to the governor. But construction can't begin just yet, Governor Christine Gregoire still has to sign off on the project, which is strongly opposed by several local groups and the Kittitas County Commissioners, who have voted in the past to deny Horizon's building permit.
8 Aug 2007

Governor's wind farm question set for answer

ELLENSBURG - Gov. Chris Gregoire on Wednesday will get the answer to her question on the controversial Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project, a wind farm planned for 12 miles northwest of Ellensburg. The governor wants to know if the setback distances between turbine towers and landowners not leasing land for the project can be lengthened without harming the economic viability of the 65-turbine wind farm planned by Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy. At this time, the distances range from a minimum of 1,320 feet to a maximum 1,640 feet.
2 Aug 2007

Seattle City Light Wants You to "Green Up" by Paying Extra

You already drink shade-grown coffee, drive a Prius, and shop strictly organic at PCC. So naturally you're the best kind of customer-indeed a captive customer-for the ad blitz Seattle City Light has recently devised for its two-year-old "Green Up" program. Your latest billing envelopes have encouraged you to Green Up by adding a voluntary premium of as much as $12 to your monthly bill. For what purpose? To buy an amount of wind power equal to a percentage of your household's usage of cheap hydropower. "Participating in the Green Up program demonstrates your preference and support for clean energy and a healthy environment in the Northwest," says the city's Web site. "It helps promote economic development in rural parts of the region, improves our energy security, and reduces pollution." Really?
1 Aug 2007
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