It’s a controversy spinning with opposition.
The proposed wind farm in Bingham County isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.
This morning, the commissioners met to discuss whether the Planning and Zoning Committee acted appropriately in their 4-to-3 vote to approve the project.
After three hours of questions and bouncing thoughts back and forth, they couldn’t come up with an answer leaving the decision still up in the air.
Ridgeline Energy believes bringing in the wind turbines will bring a big economic boost to Bingham County as far as jobs and revenue.
But not everyone is seeing eye-to-eye on Wolverine Canyon’s future.
For the past 7 years, Ridgeline Energy keeps its eyes on the hills of the Wolverine Canyon hoping to make it home to about 150 wind turbines.
“The wind farm is perfectly compatible with the activity that’s up there present,” said Rich Rayhill, Vice President of Ridgeline Energy.
After nearly three hours, the Bingham County commissioners didn’t come away with any answers.
The big questions: Will these turbines fit under the zoned “Natural Resource Agricultural Land” and will they change the character of the area.
Idaho Falls businessman and Wolverine Canyon property owner, Frank VanderSloot says wind turbines will not only destroy Mother Nature but may spiral out of control.
“The county doesn’t know where they’re going to be. The county doesn’t know where the 80 miles of roads are going to be and they’re just approving it. Point blank,” explained VanderSloot.
Ridgeline says Bingham County will essentially be a partner in this endeavor.
They will get a percentage of the gross revenue on the project, which the company says will steadily increase.
“As the project grows, the source of revenue to the county grows and it’ll continue to do so over time,” Rayhill said.
But what about the wildlife?
Ridgeline’s environmental experts say with time they will return to their natural habitat despite the planting of wind turbines.
“We’ve studied the sage grouse, we’re going to continue to study. The deer, elk, they’ll likely migrate off the area during construction but they’ll come right back,” Rayhill explained.
But some folks just aren’t buying into this ‘going green’ development.
“I think it was clear to anybody in the room that the county commissioners want to approve this if there is some way to do it. We’re just hoping they’ll give it the process it deserves in regards to the public,” said VanderSloot.
Energy or beauty? Lies in the eye of the beholder.
Ridgeline Energy says the county will get 3% of the gross revenue, which will be 10’s of millions of dollars over the 20 year life of the contract.
The county commissioners will continue their discussion on June 2nd at 1:00p.m.
The public meeting will be held in the Bingham County Commissioners Chambers at the courthouse in Blackfoot.
Reported by: Danielle Grant
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