The 69-turbine, $250 million wind farm proposed for seven miles west of Vantage was approved Tuesday by Kittitas County commissioners, and construction at the site could start in October.
Commissioners Mark McClain and Alan Crankovich OK’d a final version of a development agreement with Invenergy Wind North America LLC after making minor changes to some of its provisions.
Before a wind-farm building permit can be issued to the Chicago-based energy company, a list of requirements in the agreement must be met, said Darryl Piercy, director of county Community Development Services.
Piercy, before commissioners approved the agreement, said four structures found to be within the half-mile setback requirement from planned turbine locations have been analyzed for sound and sight impacts.
He said the impact is rated to be less than moderate for each structure, and commissioners agreed that moving of turbine locations is not needed.
The structures included the state rest area at Ryegrass Hill, which is 1,200 feet from the nearest turbine, and three structures along Vantage Highway, with the closest structure at 1,400 feet from a turbine.
The approval of the wind farm located 15 miles east of Ellensburg between Vantage Highway and Interstate 90 is the first project proposed within the county’s 500-square-mile wind energy overlay zone. The zone is an area on the county’s east end that is pre-identified as being generally compatible for wind farms.
Commissioner Alan Crankovich, after the approval, said the county put a thorough wind farm review process in place “and it worked.”
“This shows we are not anti-wind farm,” Crankovich said. “We will do our part in supporting alternative energy development.”
Commissioner Mark McClain said he was “excited to see the new county process work judiciously and expeditiously.”
Mike Logsdon, Invenergy’s director of development, said construction at the site could start in October or November, with possible completion in May or early June 2009. The project is on ridgetops about three miles southwest of the existing Wild Horse wind farm owned by Puget Sound Energy.
He said work may begin earlier if an agreement with Puget Sound Energy that allows power from the Invenergy wind farm to use existing PSE power lines is completed sooner.
Logsdon said Invenergy is negotiating with Pacific Northwest utilities on purchasing power from the project that has a maximum 103-megawatt generation capacity.
“The county staff and commissioners did a good job at presenting fair and reasonable conditions in the development agreement,” Logsdon said. “It appropriately protects the county and puts reasonable expectations on the project.”
He said if construction goes as planned, the local work will coincide with Invenergy’s Boardman, Ore., wind farm now under construction that is due for completion in December.
Invenergy continues to plan for a second wind farm within the county’s wind energy overlay zone, but Logsdon declined to indicate its size or exact location. He did say negotiations are under way with property owners to secure property leases for the project.
Commissioners will sign the amended development agreement after Invenergy officials sign it. County Planning Commission members earlier recommended approval of the project.
By Mike Johnston
7 May 2008
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