June 5, 2008

Wind farm debate continues

The Bingham County Planning and Zoning Commission is again accepting opinions on a proposed special use permit. That permit would allow Ridgeline Energy to build 150 wind turbines near Wolverine Canyon – east of Firth.

Then on July 9th, a public meeting has been scheduled to allow landowners to comment on the plan. Aaron Kunz has been covering this story and has the latest for us.

To truly get an idea of where the proposed wind turbines would be, you have to travel up the Wolverine landscape to an area overlooking Shelley and Firth.

Up there, the only constant is the wind, which made it attractive to Ridgeline Energy who monitors the wind levels through testing towers.

Kelly Bingham: “As you can see, where we stand right now the wind is pretty constant – it blows pretty well.”

This land has been in the Bingham family for years, a year-round home for four generations of Binghams who are farmers and ranchers. They understand the public concern; they weren’t always in favor of the wind farm until they researched the impact. Among those concerns, the need for roads – roads that already exist…

Kelly Bingham: “The roads need to be improved. They need to be made a little bigger but they will be returned to as close to the natural state as they were before.”

But other concerns aren’t as easy to address. For instance, along the way to public areas of Wolverine Canyon, you will run into a sign – purchased and displayed by Frank Vandersloot, who is opposed to the wind turbines – claiming the natural beauty will be lost forever.

That’s why Bingham gave us a tour of the actual land in question – a full mile from Wolverine Canyon, with a towering rock cliff between it and public-owned land.

Kelly Bingham: “From right here where we stand, it would be really hard to pick out Wolverine… and you wouldn’t see the campsites, no.”

The only visible areas would be from the valley or a very small portion of Wolverine Road barely visible.

That’s not to mention the fact the Binghams have explored other options first, which included subdivisions. But each lot sold would likely be at least one acre near the road – a huge impact versus a wind turbine that will occupy less than a 16th of an acre.

Kelly Bingham: “Every house brings so many vehicles with it that will be on the road – that much more traffic.”

To the Binghams, that is not an option they support.

One more thing that discourages the Binghams – they claim to have support from neighbors who live in the Wolverine Area year-round. Yet, those against it are mostly landowners who use their plots during the summer and fall.

Rising prices are just one reason the Binghams are looking for ways to generate revenue. Otherwise they may be forced to sell the land in different sections, which they feel might be more harmful to the area.

Reporter: Aaron Kunz


URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2008/06/05/wind-farm-debate-continues-2/