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A public meeting has been set for July 17 in Ellensburg in an effort to answer Gov. Christine Gregoire’s question about the proposed Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project, a wind farm planned for 12 miles northwest of Ellensburg
In order for the governor to make a final decision on the 65-turbine project, she wants to know if the setback or buffer distances can be lengthened between turbine towers and residences of people not participating in the project and still allow the wind farm to be economically viable.
The state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council agreed Tuesday to conduct the Ellensburg session to allow officially recognized parties in the council’s review process and the general public to comment on Gregoire’s inquiry.
“We are not reopening the formal adjudication process for this project; this is not reopening the case,” said Allen Fiksdal, EFSEC manager. “We’re not calling for any new information or studies or reports. We are only looking for comments relating to the governor’s question in items that have already been made part of the record.”
The governor on June 22 sent EFSEC’s recommendation to approve the Kittitas Valley wind farm back to the state council for reconsideration.
In a letter to EFSEC, Gregoire said EFSEC’s March 27 recommendation approving the wind farm says nothing on whether EFSEC’s maximum 1,640-foot setback can be lengthened without causing the wind farm to lose its economic viability, presumably from reducing the number of turbines or relocating them.
The site of the planned $150 million wind farm is on about 6,000 acres on both sides of U.S. Highway 97 northwest of Ellensburg.
Fiksdal said the council will meet 3 to 5 p.m. July 17 in the Home Arts Building/Teanaway Hall at the county fairgrounds to hear parties in the review process to comment on the governor’s question. The general public will have the same chance from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
The formal parties in the EFSEC review process include the project applicant, Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy, the state Attorney General’s Counsel for the Environment, Kittitas County government, the Portland-based Renewable Northwest Project, the state Department of Community, Trade & Economic Development, Residents Opposed to Kittitas Turbines and Steven Lathrop.
Written comments must be submitted at the July 17 meeting prior to it concluding for the evening.
Fiksdal said once the July 17 session is concluded, EFSEC hopes to reply to the governor’s remand by the end of the month. The options for that reply, he said, include: send the governor the same recommendation as before, send an updated recommendation with modified setback distances, or EFSEC may conclude it must reopen the formal public review process to find an answer to the governor’s concerns.
EFSEC meeting in Ellensburg on governor’s remand on Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project
July 17, Home Arts Building, Kittitas County Fairgrounds
• 3-5 p.m. – Formal parties to the state council’s wind farm review process can comment.
• 6:30-9:30 p.m. – General public can comment
By Mike Johnston
11 July 2007
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