January 26, 2011

Horizon Wind goes for next step in Blues

By ERIN MILLS, East Oregonian, www.eastoregonian.com 25 January 2011

Horizon Wind, the company developing the controversial Antelope Ridge Wind Farm in Union County, is looking to build a similar project on Lincton and Weston mountains in Umatilla County, a company spokesman said Monday.

Nick Benjamin, Horizon Wind field specialist, spoke at a noon Rotary luncheon in Pendleton. He said the Umatilla County project may generate close to 300 megawatts, about the same as the Antelope Ridge project. The Houston-based company has been gathering wind data on the Basket, Lincton and Weston mountains for three years. The project is in the early stages of development, he said.

“We’re really just waiting to find out if it’s an appropriate place to put a project,” he said.

Horizon Wind plans to invest $600 million dollars in the Antelope Ridge Wind Farm, despite a group of county residents who vociferously oppose the plan. According to a local newspaper, The (La Grande) Observer, the group says the project would have negative impacts on scenery, property values, wildlife, tourism and historical resources.

The county placed a referendum on the project on the ballot last November; 52 people voted against the wind project and 48 people voted for it. However, their votes will only count as a single comment during the Department of Energy’s facility siting process.

The department ruled Dec. 30 that Horizon’s Antelope Ridge application was complete and ready for review and public comment.

The first public meeting will be at S.E. Miller Elementary School tonight from 6-8:30 p.m. The state will accept oral comments at the meeting.

Benjamin said Horizon has negotiated a tax arrangement, called a strategic investment plan, with Union County, but the county commission has yet to approve it. According to that plan, Horizon would pay $42 million over 15 years in county taxes, including a $1 million grant to the local school district.

Horizon wind has developed and operates three wind farms in Oregon: Rattlesnake Road and Wheatfield in Arlington and Elkhorn Valley in south Union County. Benjamin said Horizon is now working on two projects, Antelope Ridge and the one in Umatilla County.

“The economy as a whole is really touching everybody, including the wind industry,” he said. “Horizon is definitely focusing its resources on its top-priority projects.”

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2011/01/26/horizon-wind-goes-for-next-step-in-blues/