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Wind farm power lines up in the air

With construction of the Chopin Wind Project held up in appeal, the Umatilla County Planning Commission is moving forward Thursday to consider the power line route connecting the wind farm to a regional grid.

Any decision on the power line is tied to the outcome of the appeal of the wind-farm permit.

Windkraft Nord, a German firm with a U.S. subsidiary, plans to erect the 99-megawatt Chopin wind farm between Athena and Milton-Freewater.

“They need approval of both to move forward with the project,” said county Planning Director Tamra Mabbott.

The Blue Mountain Alliance, an environmental advocacy group based in Milton-Freewater, last week appealed the commission’s Oct. 10 approval for Windkraft Nord to build the wind farm.

The appeal until resolved revokes the permit to build the 33-turbine farm, Mabbott said. The county board of commissioners is scheduled to hear the appeal Nov. 28 in Pendleton.

The planning commission originally planned to consider the power line route and wind farm site together over two sessions in September and October.

Company representatives, however, asked for more time to change the power line route. The commission delayed its consideration until Thursday to allow changes and time for public review.

Despite the delay, Mabbott said, Windkraft Nord kept its original route.

The power line starts at the wind farm site between Pine Creek and Lower Dry Creek and north of Staggs and Ferguson Roads.

From there it follows road rights of way to the south and east, eventually connecting with the PacifiCorp 230-kilovolt line near the intersection of Kinnear Road and Lincton Mountain Road.

Mabbott said the commission will likely decide the power line route Thursday because a county deadline on the permit application is coming close. The Thursday meeting is the final opportunity before the deadline for a decision.

Public comment will be taken when the commission meets Thursday at 6 p.m. in the media room of the Umatilla County Justice Center, 4700 Pioneer Place, Pendleton.