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Group of E. Idaho residents oppose wind farm

A group of eastern Idaho residents has banded together to oppose a proposed wind farm they say will destroy scenic views and harm wildlife.

“There’s no better place that I’ve been, and I’ve traveled a little,” said LaVar Grover, one of about 50 members of the Coalition to Preserve Wolverine.

Seattle-based Ridgeline Energy wants to build the wind farm in Wolverine Canyon. It has leased nearly 18,000 acres for the project, including some state endowment land. The wind turbines would use only about 60 acres, but would be spread out along the ridge line.

“They’re property owners and they’re concerned with the view in their backyard,” Ridgeline Vice President Rich Rayhill told the Post Register. “If I were a property owner I’d probably be squawking, too. I prefer it this way. I think it’s a good process. Of course we’d rather have everyone saying we think this (project) is great, but we think it’s a good process.”

Coalition members said the 300-foot tall wind turbines, miles of roads and traffic will harm wildlife as well as be a disaster for people who like to hike, hunt, ride ATVs and go snowmobiling in the area.

“Can you imagine looking up there and seeing windmills?” Grover said. “It’s unbelievable.”

The Bingham County planning commission on Sept. 26 recommended the permit for the project be approved, capping the number of wind turbines at 150. Area landowners appealed that decision, and the three-person Bingham County commission is scheduled to meet Nov. 13 to consider the project.

One wind turbine can produce about 1 1/2 megawatts, which is enough to power 600 to 800 homes. Rayhill said he’s negotiating to have the power used locally.

He also said the wind farm will increase the county tax base, as well as bring in money for the state endowment fund that benefits public schools because some of the leased land is state endowment land.

He also said that the land around the wind turbines could continue to be used for ranching, timber and farming.

“There’s increasing pressure on the landowners to subdivide their land, which would totally change the character, way more than windmills,” he said.

Still, local residents aren’t sure about having a wind farm nearby.

“We’re way in favor of wind farms in general,” said George McDaniel, who owns 5,000 acres in the vicinity, including Taylor Mountain Ski Area. “They produce good, clean energy. There are a lot of good things about them. But we are opposed to taking a pristine forest and littering it along the ridge tops and forests with windmills.”

Information from: Post Register, http://www.postregister.com

A service of the Associated Press(AP)


3 November 2007