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Wind controversy blowing into Kittitas county

KITTITAS COUNTY – It used to be a sore subject, but Jean Jackson says she’s used to her giant neighbors.

“After a while, you don’t pay attention,” says Jackson.

While she’s gotten used to what she considers an eyesore, there’s one concern that won’t go away.

“I’m worried about my house’s (re-sale value), cause some want that view,” says Jackson. “They want that freedom of looking up on the hills.”

Two recent projects were brought to the county. One small-scale project in the Swuak Valley Ranch was approved, but a larger, nearly 6,000 acre project was not.

County Commissioner, Paul Jewell heard it all from both sides. The positives: Each turbine is estimated to bring about $4,400 in revenue to the county. Not to mention, jobs for the construction and year-round operation.

“All that leads to a greater tax base that keeps taxes lower for residents,” says Jewell.

Environmentalists counter those benefits with wildlife concerns and side with homeowners about property values. Also, some of the power generated gets sent out of state. That doesn’t sit well with people here.

“There is a sentiment that power productions here should stay here,” says Jewell. “But, that’s a dangerous idea.”

It’s like comparing apples to apples, but instead, Jewell compares wind to apples.

“If we had a rule that all apples in Yakima Valley had to be consumed there, well, we’d grow a lot less apples,” says Jewell. “Because you couldn’t consume as many as you currently grow.”

Then there could be fewer jobs.

But, for those like Jackson who think these turbines are worse than a nosy neighbor, she says enough is enough.

“No more, we don’t want to go there,” says Jackson.

For the first time ever, the Governor over-ruled a no-vote from the county to install 65 wind turbines northwest of Ellensburg in 2007. The state could do that again with the most recent project denied.