The fate of a controversial proposal to build a wind farm in Wolverine Canyon remains unknown.
Dozens of critics and supporters showed up Tuesday at the Bingham County Courthouse for a public meeting on Ridgeline
Energy’s quest to erect 150 turbines on more than 20,000 acres in the popular canyon south of Idaho Falls. After nearly three hours, though, county commissioners decided to postpone their decision for a few days.
The Bingham County planning commission on April 23 approved Ridgeline’s request for a conditional-use permit allowing the company to build the farm. Several nearby landowners appealed, however, including former state legislator Stan Hawkins and a company called Natural Guardian Limited Partnership, which is owned by Melaleuca Inc. CEO Frank VanderSloot.
The appeals put the matter before the three-man county commission, which is expected to announce its decision Monday.
Critics say they’re not opposed to wind energy in general, just this project.
Building the wind farm would industrialize the canyon, which is popular among hikers, bikers, climbers, anglers, ATVers and more.
Ridgeline officials say the impact of the farm would be minimal.
“”We’re a very serious company when it comes to environmental impact,”” Vice President Rich Rayhill said.
The project’s been in the works for seven years, he said, adding that the county would serve as a shareholder in the venture.
Here are a few of the problems with the proposal to build a wind farm in Wolverine Canyon, as noted in appeals filed against the project:
Power production should not be allowed in an area set aside for agricultural use.
The application for the conditional-use permit didn’t contain a site plan drawing.
The planning commission limited the amount of time individuals could testify at public meetings.
The turbines could be placed on another, less valuable site.
Construction of the machines would drive off wildlife and destroy big-game habitat.
Erection of the turbines would cause a huge loss to a historical site.
By Heather Wells
28 May 2008
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