A joint public hearing before Kittitas County commissioners and the county Planning Commission examining the 69-turbine Invenergy wind farm west of Vantage is set for March 12, according to county planning staff.
The hearing will be at 6 p.m. in the Manastash Room at the county fairgrounds, under the grandstands.
Planner Joanna Valencia, with county Community Development Services, said the hearing before the two decision-making bodies will take testimony on the impacts of the proposed, $250 million wind farm and the adequacy of the applicant to mitigate or lessen those impacts.
The company, Chicago-based Invenergy Wind North America LLC, filed for the wind farm under provisions of a new ordinance for wind-power projects within a 500-square-mile east-county area designated as a pre-identified zone for wind farms.
Under the provisions, a joint hearing is conducted, then county commissioners leave the meeting. Planning Commission members then deliberate and make a recommendation on the project to county commissioners. Public testimony at the joint hearingis the only opportunity for the public to give verbal testimony, although they can presently submit written testimony to the CDS office in Ellensburg.
After receiving the Planning Commission recommendation, county commissioners meet again to deliberate on a final decision whether to approved the project and a proposed development agreement. No further public testimony is taken at the county commissioners’ deliberation-and-decision meeting.
Public and agency comments on the impact of the wind farm were taken between October and early December, and Invenergy officials have worked with county officials to address how the company will lessen environmental, wildlife and social impacts.
The 69-turbine wind farm is planned for seven miles west of the Columbia River between Vantage Highway and Interstate 90.
It is proposed for 4,750 acres west of Vantage and east of Kittitas in a long, rectangular area north of I-90 and south of Vantage Highway. Invenergy applied for county approval on Oct. 17.
County officials said it is likely they will issue next week a mitigated determination of non-significant environmental impact related to the project.
Information on the project, including comments, concerns and company mitigation measures, is available from the county Community Development Service office, 411 N. Ruby St. and online at: www.co.kittitas.wa.us/cds/current.
The company proposes to use turbines that are 389 feet high, from tip of vertically extended blade to the ground.
The company also has submitted a proposed development agreement outlining its responsibilities in constructing, operating and maintaining the project. It also proposes what the company must do to safeguard the environment and what must be done by the company if the wind farm is dismantled.
The elongated wind farm project area between Vantage Highway and I-90 takes in land owned by four entities: Don Gerard of Eastsound, Doris Clerf of Kittitas, Poison Springs LLC of Kittitas and state-owned acreage managed by the state Department of Natural Resources.
There are two pathways for wind-power generation companies to gain wind farm approvals in the county: file solely with the county utilizing local land-use ordinances or file with the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council.
By Mike Johnston
7 February 2008
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