It’s called the accumulative impact and it can affect a community facing more than one wind farm project.
The head of a state council that reviews large energy-producing projects believes the accumulative impact, or effect, of multiple wind-power developments in a region, is becoming a more significant factor that will be examined as more projects go up statewide.
Al Wright, managing director of the state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, said the accumulative factor is part of all environmental studies done on wind farm projects in the state.
“I have no doubt that it will be on the agenda of a community and decision-makers more and more as we see more projects,” Wright said earlier this week.
Wright said it’s a common reaction for people in a community to be somewhat surprised when an industrial sized wind farm is actually constructed within sight of local residences.
“Even though they knew it was coming and even saw the maps and the depictions of how they would look in their landscape, when they finally are built many times they are shocked,” Wright said.
“When it’s finally up close and personal, they’re surprised.”
Wright said some of the reactions of local residents to the Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project northwest of Ellensburg are likely related to this “surprise” factor.
He said the EFSEC works to address community concerns and perceptions about wind farm projects in its environmental studies.
The studies look at the effect of adding another project into an area’s viewscape and what occurs when projects go from one, in a somewhat limited area, to taking up nearly an entire vista.
The turbines for the KV wind farm project, developed by Horizon Wind Energy, are nearly all up 12 miles northwest of Ellensburg, and some residents have expressed concerns with what the turbines do to their view.
The project was first proposed at 120 turbines, but was downsized to 85, then 65 and finally to 52 to address a number of concerns and limitations, according to past company statements.
The final number of turbines going up is now set at 48.
Addressing those concerns included reducing the impact of turbines on the U.S. Highway 97 scenic viewshed.
Arlo Corwin, Horizon Wind Energy’s director of development in the western region, said the company takes seriously the need to evaluate possible accumulative impacts of projects in a certain area.
The company does intensive research of those factors, he said.
Brian Lenz, the government and community relations manager for Puget Sound Energy which operates the Wild Horse ,Wind and Solar Facility on the slopes of Whisky Dick Mountain, agrees that accumulative impacts, including to the scenic values of an area, will be more closely reviewed in any area where more than one project is planned.
Lenz said PSE works closely with local governments, community members and state officials to deal with concerns about scenic impacts as well as others related to any project.
“We are very committed to being sensitive to the local community,” Lenz said.
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