PRESCOTT – The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors on Monday unanimously rejected a proposed meteorological tower project that could have led to the construction of a wind farm on a ranch northwest of Prescott.
Pacific Wind Development, Inc., sought permission to construct the tower, intended to “prospect” for wind – to establish the suitability of the location for wind-power turbines.
The lessee of the land since 1989, Wasson Peakman, LP, operators of the Yolo Ranch, objected to the project.
Attorney Gregory Huber, representing Wasson Peakman, said, “If the board agrees to issue the requested use permit, it is, in effect, saying that it views Yolo Ranch as an appropriate location for wind-energy production.”
The ranch sent a letter to the supervisors objecting to the project. The letter said that “the environmental, habitat, noise and other impacts of a wind farm and associated transportation and transmission improvements are completely inappropriate to this pristine and historic area and clearly an unsuitable land use.”
“This is a very early site testing stage,” Chris Bergen, a developer for Iberdrola Renewables, which owns Pacific Wind Development, told the board. “This is sort of a prospecting exercise for us, like drilling a test well.”
“Correct me if I’m wrong,” said Board Chairman Carol Springer, “but the assumption that I would have to make is that you’re doing this test proposal with the idea of putting a wind farm in that area.”
“Yes,” said Bergen.
“I am against any kind of wind generation in our mountains,” said Tom Thurman, District 2 supervisor. “They are gorgeous, they are pristine, there’s wilderness just north of there.”
“[A wind farm is] going to be seen for miles and miles,” he continued. “As far as I am concerned, I will fight it.”
Supervisor Chip Davis, District 3, took offense to what he saw as an end-run around the ranch’s objections.
“We have common courtesy here in Yavapai County,” he said. “The first thing you have to do is talk to them [Wasson Peak].”
The board voted 3-0 against the tower project.
“I think they sent a pretty clear message,” Huber said.
Bergen agreed. “We definitely take their message very seriously, and understand this is an inappropriate location,” he said.
He said the company would continue to scout new locations, possibly in Yavapai County.
“There may be some appropriate areas” in the county for wind power, he said.
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