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Umatilla County to discuss new wind farm  

Credit:  By SAMANTHA TIPLER, East Oregonian, www.eastoregonian.com 28 September 2011 ~~

The Umatilla County Planning Commission will take up the last wind farm for consideration Thursday under old county siting rules: the 33-turbine, 99-megawatt Chopin Wind Project.

If approved, the wind farm proposed between Athena and Milton-Freewater will be the eighth in the county, and the seventh near the northern county boundary and the Oregon-Washington state line.

Windkraft Nord, a company out of San Diego, Calif., is developing the project, officially called WKN Chopin LLC.

Windkraft plans to use 33 turbines, each turbine producing three megawatts. Their overall height, including the maximum blade height, is 459 feet. Each has a footprint of 8,500 square feet to take up a total of 27 acres, according to planning department documents.

The documents list seven land owners affected by the project, including dryland wheat property owned by Ferguson Ranch Inc., the location of the wind farm itself.

The turbines are planned in two rows oriented northwest to southeast, though documents say small adjustments may be made for the company to find the maximum power output.

The project includes two main roads. Its spare parts will be stored in a building off site, likely in Athena or Milton-Freewater.

The company expects to have seven permanent employees for the wind farm.

Thursday the planning commission will be considering a conditional-use permit for the wind farm. Windkraft applied in February, months before the board of commissioners’ June decision to approve tougher regulations for wind turbine siting in Umatilla County. Those regulations imposed a two-mile buffer between wind turbines and homes, and a protected area in the Blue Mountains east of Highway 11, which stretches northeast between Pendleton and Milton-Freewater.

Those new rules are being challenged in the Land Use Board of Appeals by Portland law firm Garvey Schubert Barer and a dozen county citizens. They contend the new laws make it impossible to site wind turbines and infringes on landowner rights.

Because Windkraft submitted its paperwork before those new rules were enacted, they do not apply to the Chopin Wind Project.

The planning commission is also scheduled to consider a permit request from WKN Chopin LLC for a 12-mile-long, 230-kilovolt power line to run from the wind farm to a PacifiCorp line on Lincton Mountain, east of the proposed wind farm site.

The meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m. Thursday, in the media room at the Umatilla County Justice Center, 4700 Pioneer Place, Pendleton.

The planning department has received public comment in writing prior to the meeting, and expects to take testimony at the meeting.

Although the two permit applications are being heard for the first time, the planning commission could make a decision as to whether or not to approve the permits. If it does not make a decision, the issue could carry over into later meetings.

Source:  By SAMANTHA TIPLER, East Oregonian, www.eastoregonian.com 28 September 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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