UPC is considering changes to its planned Sevenmile Hill wind farm, agency says
Residents of Sevenmile Hill have claimed what they call “a major victory” in their bid to oppose construction of a six-mile-long chain of 390-foot wind turbines on the hills above Mosier.
Members of the Families for Sevenmile Hill circulated a memo this week from Adam Bless of the Oregon Department of Energy, outlining the results of a Feb. 28 meeting between Oregon Department of Energy and two representatives from UPC. According to Bless:
• UPC is considering changes to the project layout. These changes could involve moving some of the turbines from their originally proposed locations, and adding some turbines at new locations instead.
• UPC’s reason for moving some of the turbine locations is to try and address the public comments.
• UPC provided no specific information on which turbines it would move, or where the new locations would be. UPC did say that it would have to do more studies for these changes, including wildlife habitat, noise, scenic impact, and the other impacts that are listed in the EFSC standards.
• UPC did not know how long it would take to submit the new information, but it could take several months. The company plans to submit a greatly revised application. The revisions will be extensive and will replace the original application almost entirely.
The original proposal, dubbed the Cascade Wind Project, was presented to the Oregon Department of Energy’s Energy Facilities Siting Council (EFSC) in May 2007.
That proposal, from Massachusetts-based UPC Wind, was for the construction of 40 wind towers that would generate up to 60 megawatts of power. In June 2007, the EFSC returned a request for additional information to UPC. Until the additional information is supplied, the EFSC does not consider the application complete.
Hearings in June and July 2007 brought out strong opposition to the proposal from local residents. After the second hearing, EFSC Chair David Ripma said the response to UPC’s Cascade Wind Project was the “most contentious” he had ever seen.
UPC submitted a partial response to the information request in October 2007.
In its press release this week, Families for Sevenmile Hill said the UPC proposal “would have ringed the National Scenic Area,located an industrial power complex through an existing residential community, interfered with a major bird flyway, intruded on critical wildlife corridors, and trampled delicate habitats of threatened plant species.”
The group noted that UPC has announced it was planning to continue to collect meteorological data in the project area, though the state Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) had ruled UPC’s permits to collect data on two of the sites were invalid. Furthermore, it said, UPC had erected another testing tower “in violation of LUBA’s decision,” and the Wasco County Circuit Court had issued an injunction.
“Some wind farm developers often pay lip service to community involvement and how critical good siting is to their project,” said Jim Yuhas in the release. Yuhas is an area landowner and treasurer of Families for Sevenmile Hill. “But when virtually everyone for miles around says this is a terrible location for a wind farm, you’d think they’d take the hint.”
By Rodger Nichols
24 March 2008
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