The state Supreme Court is weighing whether it has jurisdiction in Kittitas County’s appeal of a wind farm 12 miles northwest of Ellensburg.
The court held a hearing today on whether it should weigh in on the case. In September, Gov. Chris Gregoire approved Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project, as recommended by the state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council.
The council primarily is responsible for permitting large power plants in Washington but in recent years has been allowed to also work on alternative energy projects.
Before passing muster with the site panel and the governor, the project was reduced to 65 large turbines from 121 and developers agreed to keep them farther from homes and cabins. Project officials have said they expect to spend at least $150 million on the project and hope it will begin producing 100 to 150 megawatts of electricity by early 2009.
Neighboring residents and Kittitas County officials have argued against the project for several years, saying it will have negative environmental and visual effects.
Gregoire approved the project over opposition from Kittitas County Commission, which voted unanimously in 2006 to oppose the project.
The state says the governor has the authority to override a county government decision when it relates to the wider interests of the state in connection with power generation.
The project developer wants the court to affirm Gregoire’s approval of the project; the county wants it rejected or at least sent back to Thurston County Superior Court.
26 June 2008
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