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Public gets closer look at wind power project

ELKO – The pursuit of alternative energy – and the public’s opinion on the issue – was the name of the game this week for the China Mountain Wind Power project.

The proposed 425-megawatt wind farm will be developed by Renewable Energy Systems, a private company based in Denver.

The project calls for 185 wind turbines – up to 413 feet in height – across 30,700 acres in Nevada and Idaho. About one-eighth of the project – 4,700 acres – will be located in Elko County, with the remaining acreage in neighboring Twin Falls County.

Tuesday’s meeting at the BLM, Wednesday’s meeting in Jackpot and today’s meeting in Twin Falls are designed to gain public comment, said Scott Kringen, RES senior project developer.

“We want to hear the public’s concerns,” Kringen said.

Aaron English, vice president for the URS Corporation, said no one has voiced any concerns with the project yet, but he does expect some opposition “because some people are opposed to everything.”

Kringen said the project might start construction by 2011 and start to produce power by 2012.

Kringen said it has not been decided which power grid the wind farm will feed.

It will take about a year for the company to finish the environmental impact study, said English.

“It’s unknown what kind of impacts there would be,” he said. “We don’t know what impact it will have on birds. We’re out there a couple of times a week. We’ll study the area for an entire year. We’re also doing a socio-economic study.”

Visual studies will be completed to show the public how the landscape will look once the wind turbines are in place.

Kringen said the project is an average-size wind farm for the U.S.

“We’ve had much bigger projects in the U.S.,” he said. “Wind generation is the largest new power generator in the U.S. You’ll find projects all over. Last year alone, 4,000 plus megawatts of new facilities were built in the U.S.”

By Marianne Kobak
Business Editor

Elko Daily Free Press

27 June 2008