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Wind farm project to seek support of Twin Falls City Council

A China Mountain Wind Project representative will look for Twin Falls City Council support Monday for a 30,000-acre wind farm on greater sage grouse habitat land.

It will be one of the first items on the agenda for the council’s 5 p.m. meeting Monday. It will meet at the Twin Falls City Council Chamber, 305 Third Ave. E., Twin Falls.

The wind farm is proposed to be primarily on public Bureau of Land Management land, though Renewable Energy Systems Americas, the lead group on the project, which has also made agreements with ranchers and farmers in southern Twin Falls County for use of their land.

The farm would include up to 200 wind turbines producing up to 400 megawatts of power, according to an RES Americas fact sheet, mostly to sell to Las Vegas. And while the project will be developed on about 30,000 acres of land, the project’s footprint will be closer to 900 acres, 700 of which are temporary and will be restored after construction, according to the fact sheet.

But the project is drawing some concern for how it may impact the greater sage grouse population. The sage grouse has been named a candidate species for federal protection because of its struggling population.

Few studies exist on how wind farms affect sage grouse, limiting scientific predictions of the impact. But many scientists say it will be detrimental, and some environmental groups want development stopped at least until more is known.

Also on the agenda Monday:

• Consideration of a contract between the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and the city of Twin Falls for the city to create wetlands for waste removal. New sewage limits would have required a $5 million investment into the treatment plant; the creation of wetlands would meet the new requirements at an estimate of less than 10 percent of that cost.

One wetland would be near the police firing range and the other to the west of Auger Falls.

• A request from the Twin Falls Highway District for the city to waive $11,578.87 in building fees for the district’s planned maintenance facility. The highway district commissioners wrote in a letter to the city that they “appreciate the good working relationship” between the two and that the district always waives fees for city projects.