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Wind farm gets ax  

The developer dropped the Wolverine Canyon plan because not all landowners knew about a hearing.

BLACKFOOT – A controversial proposal to plant a wind farm in Wolverine Canyon got blown off course Tuesday.

More than two dozen people showed up for a hearing at which the Bingham County Commission was set to weigh in on Ridgeline Energy’s plans to erect 300 windmills on 17,640 acres in the popular recreation site just south of the Bonneville County line.

But before things got started, county commissioners delayed the hearing because they failed to alert all of the roughly 75 landowners affected by the proposal about the hearing.

“There were two subdivisions that would have been impacted that hadn’t been notified by the county,” Commissioner Wayne Brower said.

So Ridgeline had two choices: Wait for commissioners to reschedule the hearing or withdraw the application.

Ridgeline Vice President Rich Rayhill chose the latter. He plans to resubmit the proposal in early 2008.

“We just felt that for everybody to be fully up to speed, so the best decision could be made, we’d table it,” said Rayhill, whose company is involved in 48 other projects in seven states.

The one slated for Wolverine Canyon has proved controversial.

Dozens showed up for a hearing two weeks ago before the Bingham County Planning Commission. The wind farm would industrialize the canyon, they said.

Not only would hundreds of windmills perched on the canyon’s rim spoil the view, many said, but they would hurt wildlife and change the nature of the area, a hot spot for outdoor enthusiasts.

“It’s used quite a bit for snowmobiling, hunting, fishing,” said Louis Morales, who lives near the mouth of the canyon and is opposed to Ridgeline’s plans. “It’s one of the very few areas in southeastern Idaho that’s used as a large recreation area.”

Morales and the other members on the Coalition to Preserve Wolverine aren’t opposed to wind energy, though.

“We’re just against the placement of them in Wolverine,” Morales said.

The planning commission in late September voted 3-2 to approve a special-use permit allowing Ridgeline to proceed with the wind farm, though commissioners capped the farm at 150 turbines.

Critics appealed the decision, however, leading to Tuesday’s hearing before the county commission.

Wednesday November 14, 2007



Idaho Falls Post Register

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