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Blue Mountain Alliance opposes new wind farm

Members of Blue Mountain Alliance, the group appealing the Chopin Wind Project, are preparing for the hearing before the Umatilla County Board of Commissioners on Nov. 28.

“As a group of individuals, we meet as we have time and discuss how we’re going to approach the seven items listed in the appeal and prioritize our efforts where we think will be best,” said Norm Kralman, of Milton-Freewater.

Windkraft Nord, the company behind the wind farm, is also preparing, said Project Manager Eric Johnston. But he declined to comment further.

Members of Blue Mountain Alliance were willing to talk.

“We’ve invested in the appeal because we want the project turned down,” said Debbie Kelley of Milton-Freewater.

Topping Blue Mountain Alliance’s concerns, said Kralman, Kelley and Dave Price, of Athena, are the rules the Umatilla County Planning Commission used to approve the wind farm, the sound study Windkraft Nord submitted and protection of the view from Highway 204.

Umatilla County approved new rules regarding wind farms in June. Windkraft Nord submitted its application in February, but didn’t finish the paperwork until August.

The planning commission set the goalpost to apply laws for wind companies at the first filing date. Blue Mountain Alliance disagrees.

And Kelley said the Windkraft Nord should have known the county was considering changing its laws.

“Even though they filed five months before the decision was made, we were two and a half years into the process knowing it was coming to that culmination,” she said.

The company also submitted a sound study to establish an ambient noise at the project site.

Kelley called it inadequate because it was done over a few days in January.

“More importantly,” Price said. “It did not meet the state measurement standards.”

Umatilla County also has specific protections for the view from Highway 204, also known as the Tollgate Highway. Kralman didn’t feel those protections were honored and listed it as chief among his concerns.

Blue Mountain Alliance’s appeal also wants to see studies for bird and bat deaths reflect all the wind farms in the county, not just one at a time, as the Chopin Wind Project proposal did.

The commissioners will hold the public appeal hearing at 10:30 a.m., Monday, Nov. 28 at the Umatilla County Justice Center, 4700 N.W. Pioneer Place in Pendleton.

“We need people to turn out,” Kralman said, “if they’ve got concerns one way or another.”