By Kiersten Throndsen
The Cotterel Ridge Mountain wind project has been in the works since 2001 and while both state officials and Cassia County residents like the idea of renewable energy through wind production, when it comes to the farms location not everyone is happy.
The Cotterel Mountain Ridge is home to wildlife, a place for people to hike and recreate, it provides a scenic view for Albion residents, and soon it could be the next wind farm in Idaho if Boise based Windland Incorporated gets it’s way.
“I mean it will be certainly the biggest current wind project on public land in Idaho and given the push for renewable energy it could be considered a leader in my mind,” Ken Miller, a Field Office Manager with the Bureau of Land Management in Burley told KBCI CBS 2 News.
Windland Inc. wants to build a large wind farm on the Cotterel Ridge, overlooking the small town of Albion. The project would generate enough power for more than 40,000 homes. Scott Barker with the BLM office in Burley has served as the wind farm project manager since the beginning. He says that the Cotterel Ridge is an ideal place for this type of project because of the way the wind blows.
“The way the mountain lays it has a long gentle slope coming from the West which is the way the prevailing wind blows, so the wind tends to accelerate to the top,” said Barker.
The turbines would look similar to the ones in Elmore County but bigger and for some residents in the small community of Albion having a wind farm of that size in their backyard doesn’t excite them.
“We believe that it is a necessary alternative form of energy but we don’t like them here because Albion Valley is so small that the wind mills on the Cotterel Mountain are going to totally dominate the scenery in this little Valley,” Jim Wahlgren, chairman of the committee that opposes the wind project, told KBCI CBS 2 News.
“There nice to see for tourists that don’t have to look at them everyday, that don’t have to wake up and look at them, but we’re going to be here may be another 71 years and I don’t want to look at them that long,” said Albion resident Gorge Kelly.
While the BLM says they empathize with Albion residents, they also say that this wind farm could help boost the local economy throughout Cassia County.
The residents in the town are not the only ones with concerns when it comes to this project. Idaho Fish and Game biologists are also concerned about the impact the tall turbines could have on the native habitats of Sage Grouse and the 14 to 15 Raptor and migratory bird species that live on the Ridge.
Now it’s only a matter of time to see what way the wind blows when it comes to the future of this wind farm project.