A 500-megawatt wind farm north of Glasgow that was shelved after running into opposition from environmentalists will be revived as a 50-megawatt project, the chief executive behind the proposal said Monday.
The Valley County wind farm had been suspended earlier this year after several environmental groups lined up against the project over concerns its 400-foot tall turbines would loom over an adjacent wilderness area.
After local officials lobbied aggressively to have it restored, Gary Evans, chief executive of GreenHunter Energy Inc. of Grapevine, Texas, said his company decided it would return to Valley County with a pared-down project.
“We’ve cut it down to 10 percent of its original goal, from 500 megawatts to 50 megawatts,” Evans said. “It’s now probably a $60 million project versus something that was half a billion before.”
Evans said the turbines for the smaller facility would be about 10 miles away from the 60,000-acre Bitter Creek Wilderness Study Area. Environmentalists have described the wilderness area as a uniquely well-preserved tract of prairie that would have been forever altered by the presence of an industrial-sized wind farm.
The original proposal was for a project spread across approximately 20,000 acres, much of it controlled by the federal Bureau of Land Management. To avoid further confrontation, Evans said the 50-megawatt project would be limited to state and private lands.
He said the company was working with state officials to lease additional parcels needed for the project, which he said would be spread across no more than 5,000 acres.
Larry Mires, an economic development advocate for Valley County, said GreenHunter’s decision was welcome news for the sparsely populated community. Mires said the region has struggled for decades to find economic stability.
“This is the brightest light Valley County has had in a long time,” he said. “Valley County can’t afford to lose this.”
By Matthew Brown
25 September 2007
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