September 23, 2006

EFSEC meetings end with a bang

Tempers reached a boiling point at Thursday night’s third and final Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council public commentary session at the Kittitas County Fairgrounds.

Speaking out in favor of the proposed Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project and alternative energy, Ellensburg resident James Markret incited the ire of several veterans in attendance after likening the war in Iraq to Vietnam, saying that both happened “for no reason.” The comment drew loud vocal protests from several audience members and Administrative Judge Adam Torem threatened to throw out the objectors.

Several audience members walked out of the meeting amidst Markret’s speech, one of whom yelled an expletive at Markret as he left.

The tense session capped off what otherwise had been a subdued week of hearings and conference calls, during which EFSEC members heard arguments for and against the construction of Horizon Wind Energy’s proposed new wind farm.

Prior to the disturbance, audience members remained relatively split in their opinions on whether or not the farm should be built.

“If we would have known we’d be fighting wind turbine projects here, we would have never purchased property here,” Ellensburg resident Janet Lee said.

Cle Elum resident Roger Clerf was one of a number of local residents who favored the wind farm’s construction.

“You people (EFSEC) represent the state of Washington; you have to look at the bigger picture,” Clerf said. “The wind is free today, tomorrow and hereafter and we need to be using it.”

Though public comment sessions to EFSEC have wrapped, written comments will be accepted through next Friday, Sept. 29.

By Paul Balcerak

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