The Cotterel wind-energy project in Cassia County is underway, but not with out a fight.
Getting these 98 windmills approved for the Cotterel Mountains has been an uphill battle for about five years. Last week Local News 8 told you how the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Interior finally approved the project.
Many people in the area don’t appreciate the decision made.
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Supplying 50,000 homes with energy – who would not want to see windmills built in Cassia County? The little guys who are stuck looking at these turbines and not necessarily reaping any of the benefits.
About 82 percent of Albion homeowners feel the BLM sold them out. With a population of 262 people, the town of Albion may be tiny, but stands tall when it comes to expressing negative opinions about 98 windmills being built on “their” mountain.
Jim Wahlgren of the Committee Against Windmills in Albion, says, “If they had to be here, if this was the only place they had to be, than I’m all for it. I’m not anti-American, I’m not anti-support – but people who live in Idaho know there isn’t any place that doesn’t get 7-9 mile winds – that’s all it takes.”
This leads to Wahlgren’s first point: If wind can be found anywhere why does Windlan have to build here?
The BLM says the company did their research and found the Cotterel Mountains were a reasonable wind source.
Ken Miller, BLM manager in Burley, says, “There was nothing in the application to cause us to say, “˜This isn’t right,’ so we entertain it in multiple use of public lands.”
But residents feel otherwise and worry Idaho won’t even see any perks to these turbines. The power may not be used in this state, but Miller says there may be a few benefits to the area.
“We could see jobs here in Idaho. We could have tangible benefits from the immediate area,” he said.
Remaining unconvinced, many folks still don’t want to give up their view. This being the final point, one that the BLM says they have considered. But unfortunately, they found Cotterel Mountains don’t rank as high as they could in the looks department.
“Because of the radio towers on the top of the mountain, the area was already considered to be somewhat impacted,” Miller said.
Nevertheless, homeowners say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
“I get up every morning and thank God I live in this beautiful little valley,” Wahlgren says. “I would just a soon not have to see windmills where I don’t have to.”
More recently, Idaho Power requested bids for 200 megawatts of renewable power. Windlan was one of the many companies that made a bid for the business, by way of Cotterel Mountain. Idaho Power didn’t accept their offer, but rather chose to go with a company based out of Texas, whose wind-energy farm will be in Oregon.
Construction of the windmills is still set to begin in about a year.
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