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Planners grant permits for electricity-generating wind farm in southern Utah

The vast open spaces and persistent wind in northern Beaver County have lured a Massachusetts company with plans for a $400 million electricity-generating wind farm.

Representatives of UPC Wind Management LLC of Newton, Mass., met last week with the planning and zoning commission of this southwestern Utah county to ask for a conditional land-use permit to build the first phase on 16,000 acres about 8 miles northeast of Milford.

Given assurances the project would not close any lands or roads or interfere with grazing rights, the planning commission voted unanimously to grant the permit.

Krista Kisch, business development director for the company, said the
location, on public and private land, is perfect for the project.

“The Milford Valley creates a funnel effect that produces a great wind resource,” she told the planning commission.

The first and largest phase of the two-phase project will require 80 towers that will stand 420 feet each from the tower base to the tip of the blades, she said.

Each will generate 2.5 mega watts of power, or enough for roughly 60,000 households.

The first phase will generate 320 megawatts of power, with an additional 80 megawatts coming from a later phase that would include a sliver of Millard County.

Kisch said the company, which also operates a 30-megawatt wind farm on Maui, also will build transmission towers to carry a 345-kilovolt line to a substation at the Intermountain Power Project 90 miles to the north near Delta.

Now that the permits are granted, the company will start selling the power to different utilities, including Rocky Mountain Power.

The first phase of the project could employ up to 100 workers and about a dozen full-time maintenance people.

Dave Cowan, UPC Wind Management’s vice president for environmental affairs, said that in a volatile energy market, wind is competitive with fossil fuels.

Each windmill will contain four generators, so if one goes down it could still run at 75 percent of full capacity, he said.

Margaret Oler, spokeswoman for Rocky Mountain Power, said the utility currently buys wind-generated electricity from wind farms in Wyoming and one on the Oregon and Washington state line.

The company also allows customers to buy 100 kilo-hours of electricity from renewable sources. An extra $2 a month is added to such bills for further research into renewable sources.

Brian Harris, administrative assistant with Beaver County, figures the wind project could bring $1 million a year to the county in taxes and royalties.

By Mark Havnes
The Salt Lake Tribune

mhavnes@sltrib.com

sltrib.com