CLE ELUM, Wash. ““ Washington State is becoming a key player in the nation’s growing wind power movement and Kittitas County is home to one of the newest projects.
Wind is Kittitas County’s most dependable natural resource and, according to the experts, this is one of the best places to capture it.
“What we’re looking at is the perfect structure for making wind power,” said Dana Peck, Horizon Wind Energy.
Horizon Wind Energy knows what it takes to make wind power. It’s building Puget Sound Energy’s Wild Horse Project just 25 miles east on Whiskey Dick Mountain.
The site in Kittitas County has all the attributes the Whisky Dick Mountain site has ““ a steady supply of wind and nearby high power transmission lines. But it also has something the Whiskey Dick site doesn’t have ““ a loud group of opponents.
“It’s location. Wild Horse Project was never affected because there wasn’t many people around,” said Sandy Sandall, a neighbor who opposed the project.
Sandy Sandall and his neighbors worry the project would block their panoramic valley views and lower property values.
But the owners of the land where the farm would be built are all for it.
“You work against the wind and then all of a sudden you have a chance to put the wind to a really good use,” said Mike Gensen, a rancher who supports the project.
Genson likes the idea of sharing his ranch with a wind farm and collecting a dependable income from it.
But in the eyes of Kittitas County, this project is already dead. The commissioners killed it.
“County Commissioners were concerned about the proximity of some of the turbines to some of the neighbors,” said Peck.
But instead of walking away from Kittitas County Wind Project, the backers are appealing to a state panel empowered to overrule county decisions on energy projects.
“We’re asking them to weigh the effects of local Kittitas County residents against the benefits of more green power to the state,” said Peck.
It’s an issue that has neighbor opposing neighbor in the normally neighborly windswept ranges of Kittitas County.
The issue will be decided in Olympia.
If the Kittitas Valley Wind Project gets approval, it’ll use 65 wind turbines to produce enough electricity to power 32,000 homes.
By Gary Chittim / KING 5 News
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