More than 20 miles to the closest shopping center in Spanish Springs, driving north on Pyramid Highway is a dirt road that winds around corners created by boulders in the pathway. Nestled behind rolling hills and jagged peaks are a mix of new and older homes, ranches with horses and goats.
The Palomino Valley streets are labeled Wilcox Ranch Road, Quaking Aspen, Microwave Road, but each street narrows from a two-lane unpaved track to a narrow lane in which someone would have to pull onto the shoulder for on-coming traffic to pass.
Soon, these country roads could be teeming with semi-trucks hauling parts to build wind turbines that would dot the ridgeline as part of the Virginia Peak Wind Project that is being developed by green energy firm Nevada Wind, LLC.
“Nevada Wind is an LLC, we have been in existence for the past eight years,” managing partner Tim Carlson said. “We presently have nine various locations throughout Nevada that are going through the first phases of development.”
Nevada Wind won a small battle with the Washoe County Planning Commission on Feb. 4 when the panel unanimously voted to approve a special-use permit for the project slated for development in the Palomino Valley, approximately 30 miles north of Sparks.
The commission approved the project with 44 wind turbines, though Carlson said the number of turbines has decreased since the application process began in July. Along with the decrease in the number of turbines, the commission has placed 72 conditions on the project.
Washoe County Senior Planner Trevor Lloyd explained that the conditions on the project have come about in different ways.
“Our staff will impose conditions, a number of reviewing agencies at the county, state and federal level as well as public comment at meetings can impose conditions” Lloyd said.
The 72 conditions on the Virginia Peak Wind Project have been implemented as a way to protect valley residents and county interests. Some of the conditions include limitations on construction traffic, limiting noise from the turbines and the minimum distance of the wind turbines from existing houses, which is set at one mile.
Then the project hit a snag Tuesday when nearby landowner Dan Herman filed an appeal.
“Well, the only thing I appealed is the one condition that allowed the two windmills on the property at the end of Quaking Aspen that directly affects the surrounding neighbors,” Herman said. “It’s not the whole project I am appealing. I am asking the county to take another look at those windmills.”
The turbines Herman is appealing are on property owned by real estate leasing company XO, LLC. Ed Lord, managing member of XO, said at the Feb. 4 meeting that the commission could not remove the turbines on his property because he already obtained a contract with Nevada Wind. Lord previously had four wind turbines on XO property but a condition was implemented to remove two of the southernmost turbines.
“I was against the project for almost a year,” said Lord, who owns 3,200 acres in the valley. “Initially I didn’t think it was going to be good for my property. I took a year to think about it.”
At the Feb. 4 meeting, the planning commission commission pondered adding a condition to remove all four turbines from the property. Both Lord and Carlson spoke at the meeting and said that the removal of all four turbines could result in a contract dispute.
Nevada Wind said that the closest turbine cannot be within one mile of the nearest existing structure and that the project does not have any planned turbines within that distance, but residents have been concerned about the two remaining turbines on XO’s property and their proximity to existing homes.
“There is a lot of people who bought property there and have planned on retiring there, and it will affect our property values and our way of life,” Herman said about the wind turbines.
Herman owns 120 arces in the valley – the future site of his dream retirement home.
“I’m planning to build and plan on doing an off-grid house with solar panels,” Herman said. “A lot of people in the valley are off grid.”
Residents in Palomino Valley who are off the grid, meaning they supply their homes with energy from solar power or backup generators, would not benefit from the power produced from the wind turbines since Nevada Wind hopes to sell the power to NV Energy.
“We have submitted our project to NV Energy,” Carlson said. “We hope to be selected as an energy that they would want to partner with. We feel very comfortable there will be a contract available to us in the future. It is a very complex process and they are taking their time to do it right.”
Carlson said that Nevada Wind understands the residents’ concerns but that the residents who are opposing the project, or parts of it, are the minority in the valley. He added that Nevada Wind intends to take its time with the project and develop it correctly.
Residents are still skeptical of Nevada Wind and its ability to consider their concerns as well as the company’s own interests.
For the continuation of this story, read Saturday’s Daily Sparks Tribune.
Part 1 of 2: Wind turbine project rallies valley residents |
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