Shell WindEnergy is hoping to address the concerns of Ferndale residents over the proposed Bear River Ridge wind farm by further examining transportation options, creating new visualizations and starting a website for open communication.
Company representatives met with property owners this week to update them on its proposed transportation options, which includes nixing the Fernbridge route for turbine transport due to logistical issues.
Project manager Pana Ratana said Wednesday that the company is still moving forward but is taking a closer look at other options, including airlifting the wind turbine blades instead of trucking them. Additional options are trucking them through Blue Slide Road to the Wildcat, and having shorter turbine towers made to reduce the size of the trucks needed for transport.
”Given the challenge of having Ferndale near the site and the many residents’ concerns, we want to take a better look at that,” he said.
Fernbridge would still be used for regular construction traffic.
The project would use up to 25 wind turbines along the ridge south of Ferndale. Construction to assemble the farm is estimated to take six to eight months once the equipment is brought on site, and any roads used will be restored or improved after construction.
During a public meeting in September, residents expressed concern about construction noise and the addition of large trucks to the slew that already shake the houses along
Main and Fifth streets. Many also spoke about the visual impact, light pollution for the night sky and the farm’s effect on property values.
Ratana, a business development advisor for Shell WindEnergy, said the company has heard the town’s concerns, and attempts are being made to address them, including considerations for tourist season traffic.
He said the company is working on new photo simulations of the wind farm views that will be more accurate and detailed.
The new visualizations will include visualizations for views from Ferndale, the Humboldt County Fairgrounds, Fortuna and Fernbridge and will include nighttime simulations.
Ratana said the company is also looking into the concerns presented by Loleta residents regarding light pollution at night. Simulations are expected to be completed by the end of the this year, as well as a website to provide more information to the public. The website will include an updated project description and ways for people to communicate directly with the company. An informational open house is expected in April.
Shell WindEnergy has been studying the site since 2004 and hopes to have the farm up and running by late 2014, if it can obtain approval from the various agencies, including the Humboldt County Planning Commission and the California Coastal Commission.
The environmental impact report is on track for completion by the end of 2012 or early 2013, Ratana said. The company has said the wind farm will create new jobs and help the local economy.
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