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Again, county set to delay turbine project

The Whatcom County Council will likely vote to extend the emergency moratorium to delay the installation of wind turbines near the Squalicum Mountain community Tuesday, April 26, County Councilman Ken Mann said.

This would be the fourth time the council has voted to delay the installation of wind turbines in Whatcom County.

Wind turbines have been long awaited in Whatcom County, but the county council voted 6-1 to approve an emergency moratorium on turbines last February.

Although no specific location was proposed, the council considered authorizing installation of them on Squalicum Mountain. However, the Squalicum Mountain community rallied against the turbines, voicing concerns about noise and personal safety.

It has not yet been determined how much the installation of wind turbines would cost, and the council has not indicated who would build the turbines.

Dr. Cary Kaufman, a Bellingham surgeon and Squalicum Mountain resident, spoke out against building the wind turbines near Squalicum Mountain residences.

“Green energy is good,” Kaufman said. “Being able to live in peace and quiet is also good.”

Kaufman said the question is not whether Whatcom County should invest in wind turbines; it’s how close the turbines should be to homes.

“Everything needs to be done in a proper way,” Kaufman said. “You wouldn’t put a nuclear plant next to a school.”

Kaufman said the turbines will not be small or quiet.

“Wind is quiet. Converting wind to energy is not,” he said.

Mann said it was a mistake for the county to listen to the Squalicum Mountain community.

Putting off energy innovations in Whatcom County because people do not want to live next to them will only hurt the county in the long run, he said.

Both Councilwoman Barbara Brenner, who proposed the moratorium extension, and Mann have drafted updated wind energy ordinances for Whatcom County. The original wind energy ordinance was drafted in 2008, but no ordinance has been passed that would allow construction of turbines.

Western senior Alysia Herr said those who oppose the installation of wind turbines should consider the needs of the entire county.

“It’s affecting them for the worse, but it’s better for the community,” Herr said. “I feel like they aren’t taking that into account.”
Mann said by voting for wind turbine power in Whatcom County, he felt he was publicly supporting a long-term plan for clean and innovative energy methods.

The Whatcom County Planning Commission is researching how the turbines would affect Whatcom County and will make a recommendation on how to proceed soon, Mann said.

Mann said the controversy surrounding wind energy will not end any time soon.

“When the Planning Commission make their recommendations,” Mann said. “There will be a full-blown battle between the anti-turbine people and the pro-turbine people.”