A state agency on Tuesday agreed it needed more time to work on a document that outlines a proposed decision on the controversial Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project and declared it would likely meet in Ellensburg in the first two weeks of March to take a vote on the document.
The state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, or EFSEC, meeting in Olympia, agreed more time was needed to complete a draft of a proposed order, according to EFSEC Manager Allen Fiksdal.
That order, voted upon at the Ellensburg meeting, will be its recommendation to Gov. Chris Gregoire on the 65-turbine wind farm proposed for 12 miles northwest of Ellensburg on both sides of U.S. Highway 97.
The state council earlier met in closed-door sessions in Olympia on Jan. 25, Dec. 5, 6 and 12 in attempts to form a recommendation on the wind farm proposed by Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy.
Kittitas County officials last year agreed to reject the project. Horizon, the county and others presented their case before EFSEC in several hearings in September. Horizon is not only asking EFSEC to approve the project, but to pre-empt or lay aside the county’s decision to reject it. The company wants EFSEC to make its own decision on whether the project is compatible with county land-use policies, rules and zoning.
Once the governor receives the recommendation, Gregoire has 60 days to make the final decision.
EFSEC took action on other wind farm-related matters:
â‚¬ Agreed to request from EnXco Inc. additional, clarifying information on its 2005 environmental impact study that examined the French-based firm’s proposed 120-turbine Desert Claim wind farm eight miles north of Ellensburg.
Fiksdal asked EFSEC members to review a consultant’s report on the study and forward their observations on the existing impact study to assist him in determining if that study is adequate to cover EnXco’s new project, a downsized version of the wind farm that now proposes 90 turbines in generally the same area.
â‚¬ Fiksdal said he will request EFSEC at its March 13 meeting to formally call for a public hearing to review proposed changes in EFSEC rules. One change proposes to do away with a requirement that a project be made compatible with local government land-use rules prior to formal EFSEC hearings.
By Mike Johnston
14 February 2007
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