Governor Gregoire’s “non-decision” on the Kittitas Wind Power Project yet again showcases her trademark Teflon approach to all problems screaming for some political leadership.
She implied our locally elected officials “did not articulate a well-reasoned setback standard during the hearing process.” The record shows otherwise. Suggested setbacks were given and Horizon walked out of the meeting with no comment other than it would make the project economically unviable.
She is directing her staff (EFSEC) “to determine on this particular project whether additional setbacks beyond the four times height (4xh) requirement for non-participating landowners are achievable while allowing the project to remain economically viable.” Did she suggest how (and by whom) “economic viability” should be defined? No, she didn’t. Again, our county representatives asked the very same question during the local land use process and Horizon declined to answer.
Let’s get some honesty into this evaluation. Florida Power and Light (FPL Group) is the world’s second biggest wind generating utility, after Iberdrola of Spain. It stated recently that over half of the typical wind power project’s value comes from tax incentives. Then are we to believe that “economic viability” should be based on how many taxpayer dollars can be accrued by a wind power developer?
Setback requirements are a protection of the public health, safety and individual property rights – not a yardstick of a project’s economic success. The people who have the most experience with commercial wind power today are the Europeans. They are saying that a minimum of one mile from residences and any turbine should be imposed to protect the public.
But the bigger issue here is that our locally elected officials denied the project as designed and the governor believes she should override local land use authority based on how much more money Horizon can make.
This doesn’t say much for the long-term general public acceptance (and support) of alternative energy sources as prices climb and local authority is usurped.
29 June 2007
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding