A survey commissioned by a wind-power development company indicates 78 percent of 300 Kittitas County voters responding to the poll say they support the development of wind farms within the county.
French-owned EnXco USA Inc. issued the results of the survey Thursday as the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council continues to consider approving EnXco’s proposed Desert Claim Wind Power Project, a 90-turbine, 180-megawatt wind farm planned for eight miles north of Ellensburg.
David Steeb, Desert Claim’s project director, said in a news release announcing the survey that the company later this month will formally ask the state council to pre-empt Kittitas County government in the state’s initial project review process. The company will call on EFSEC to recommend approval of the project to the governor, who makes the final decision.
EFSEC will make its recommendation after conducting hearings in Kittitas County on the wind farm application that was filed with the state council in November. EnXco’s newest proposal is downsized from a 120-turbine version that was rejected by county commissioners in 2005.
Steeb noted that EFSEC on March 27 voted to recommend approval of a 65-turbine project proposed by Horizon Wind Energy, a Houston-based firm, at a site 12 miles northwest of Ellensburg. The county also previously rejected Horizon’s project.
“Wind energy now clearly has the strong support of both the state and even most Kittitas County residents, and Desert Claim is one of the best wind farm sites in the state,” Steeb said in the release. “We will ask EFSEC to recommend approval of Desert Claim as a regional resource that could supply power to 60,000 homes.”
Moore Information a public opinion research firm based in Portland, did the telephone survey Feb. 22-23. The survey has a potential margin of error of plus or minus 6 percent at the 95 percent confidence level, according to the news release. The survey indicated that, of those voters responding, 9 percent were opposed to wind farm development and 13 percent had no opinion.
The survey also showed that the Desert Claim project was supported by about a two-to-one margin of those aware of the project.
Ed Garrett, an opponent of Desert Claim using the site north of Ellensburg and a member of Residents Opposed to Kittitas Turbines, said the survey asked the wrong questions, but got the response EnXco was trying to get.
“The real question is, “˜Would you support a wind farm going in a half-mile away from your house or neighborhood with 410-foot, noisy wind turbines?'” Garrett said. “I bet 98 percent would say “˜no.'”
By Mike Johnston
9 April 2007
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