December 9, 2011

County approves wind farm easement

By Mark Bogart, Baker Quick News, 8 December 2011

A second wind energy operation is one step closer to reality after County Commissioners approved an easement agreement with Oregon Windfarms, LLC at Wednesday’s Commission meeting. The primary concern about time limits was resolved with language added since the last meeting.

The Commission also decided to request a speed zone study for Chico Road and North Cedar Road, approved the first reading of a franchise agreement between the City of Unity and Oregon Telephone Corp., and heard a report on winter use of county roads by snowmobiles.

The wind farm easement was approved with new language requiring Oregon Windfarms to file for a conditional use permit within three years and to begin construction on adjacent property within five years. Failure to meet that time line would constitute default on the agreement and the easement would be terminated.

The facility, if built, will be located near the Lime Wind electricity generating project north of Huntington.

In addition to employment and tax revenue, the County would receive a one-time payment of $5 per linear foot along the easement from Oregon Windfarms.

The easement gives the developer the authority to construct and maintain transmission lines equipment and facilities along a route approved by the County as needed for the wind energy facility. The wind turbines themselves would be located on private land, unlike the Lime Wind turbines, which are located on BLM property. Oregon Windfarms has begun studying the feasibility of the project, but will have to meet state and federal requirements and receive a conditional use permit before building the facility.

In other business, Commissioners are considering the Unity telephone franchise agreement due to the absence of a functioning City Council in Unity. The County will have jurisdiction over such issues until a local government is in place.

The speed zone studies will be requested from Oregon Dept. of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over the issue. The County Commission will make the request on behalf of citizens who expressed concerns over speeds on North Cedar Road (from Hughes Lane north approximately to Oregon Trails West RV Park) and Chico Road (from Hughes Lane north to Highway 30).

Snowmobile use of county roads was an information item only. Road Master Ken Helgerson is working with the Sumpter Valley Snowmobile Association to clear up concerns from last year and keep communication open.

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