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Enxco wind power project hits snag in Washington  

The developer of a wind power project in central Washington, having hit an impasse, is going “over the heads” of local planning officials.

Desert Claim Wind Power, owned by wind developer enXco, today asked Washington State officials to recommend approval of its wind farm in Kittitas County that could power nearly 55,000 homes, the company announced.

Desert Claim Wind Power made a motion asking the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council to pre-empt local Kittitas County, and recommend approval of the wind farm.

The request comes after Desert Claim said it was unable to resolve the county’s concern about the setback distance of the wind turbines from existing homes.

Desert Claim has proposed to locate turbines 1,656 feet away from existing homes, or four times the turbine height. The four-times-height distaince was specified by state energy regulators when they recommended certification of the Kittitas Valley Wind Project on March 27 of this year. Last week, Gov. Christine Gregoire asked EFSEC to reconsider its recommendation after residents protested, learning how close the whirling turbines would be.

Desert Claim would consist of 82 turbines with a generation capacity of 164 megawatts. It would generate enough electricity to power nearly 55,000 homes.

Original plans for 120 turbines were turned down by Kittitas County in 2005.

Company officials say the Desert Claim site, located on rural farmland, has “a rare combination of qualities,” with plentiful wind and proximity to a power transmission corridor. No new transmission lines would need to be built, saving $500,000 to $1 million per mile in construction costs that the company claims “otherwise would have to be passed on to ratepayers in higher utility bills.”

The company cited data from a survey it paid to have conducted in February, showing residents throughout the state and in Kittitas County support wind farms in general.

enXco has been building wind farm developments since 1987, and is the largest third-party provider for wind farms, with more than 3,600 turbines and more than 1,500 MW under contracts.


29 June 2007

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