A group of residents in The Dalles area has come out against a proposed wind farm along the nearby ridges of the Columbia River Gorge.
Wind farms are popping up throughout the Gorge, but this is the first time any notable opposition has arisen in Oregon.
Members of the group, Families for Sevenmile Hill, say the wind turbines could cause health and noise problems and could be a danger to wildlife. Residents also fear property values would plummet.
“It would be unprecedented to have a facility like this so close to people’s residences and the (Columbia River Gorge National) scenic area,” said Jill Barker, a member of the group.
Massachusetts-based UPC Wind wants to build an $80 million, 60-megawatt wind farm about five miles west of The Dalles in Wasco County. The facility, dubbed the Cascade Wind Project, would consist of 40 turbines stretching along six miles of exposed ridgeline.
UPC Wind filed an application for the project with the Oregon Department of Energy in April. The department will review the proposal for compliance with state standards and land-use requirements.
The developer plans to hold an open house at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center in The Dalles to explain the project and to hear from the public. Opponents said they will attend the meeting to express their concerns.
Krista Kisch, director of business development for UPC’s West region, said opponents had “misinterpreted the scientific analyses from the application for site certification.” She called the group’s conclusions “erroneous.”
UPC Wind has 35 wind projects under development in North America. The Cascade Wind Project would be its first in the Northwest.
While controversy was brewing in Oregon, the newest wind farm in the Gorge made its debut with a dedication ceremony near Bickleton in Washington’s Klickitat County.
The Big Horn Wind Power Project is one of the largest in the region. The 200-megawatt facility generates enough electricity to power about 50,000 homes annually.
Portland-based PPM Energy, which built and owns the project, is one of the largest wind developers in the country.
The M-S-R Public Power Agency, a power authority organized by the Modesto Irrigation District, Silicon Valley Power of Santa Clara and the City of Redding, purchased Big Horn’s electricity through a long-term contract.
By Gail Kinsey Hill
22 may 2007
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