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BLM hears wind farm concerns

Residents concerned about a proposed wind farm on the south side of Quaking Aspen Mountain spoke with Bureau of Land Management officials and representatives of enXco – the company proposing the project – Monday night.

The public comment period to the BLM was recently extended to Dec. 27.

One Green River resident, Tommy Wiekhorst, said he was concerned if the proposed wind towers, which will measure 575 feet from base to blade tip, would be viewable from his house.

“I don’t want our county to be like Carbon County,” Wiekhorst said about the possibility of Sweetwater County having wind generators built within the county.

Wiekhorst added by saying a similar wind farm, built near Evanston, completely destroyed the view of the Uinta Mountains from I-80.

“It used to be such a pretty view, you can’t even see them now” Wiekhorst said.

Another concern Wiekhorst has is about reclamation. He said gas wells and mines can eventually be reclaimed to the point where someone visiting the site would hardly be able to tell a mining operation or gas well was in the area.

A number of other residents also oppose the wind farm.

Bill Spillman from Rock Springs said he thinks the location is a bad idea because of trophy mule deer hunting in the area.

Lorraine Keith, who is heading up the BLM’s public scoping of the project, said there were a number of things the BLM could require of enXco during the construction and operations phases of the project.

For example, to protect raptors and other avian species, the BLM could require the turbines to be built with a system to shut the turbines down if a flock of birds approach a tower. Keith said such systems are typically used during migration periods.

Fern Linton, of Green River also attended the scoping meeting and opposes the proposal, but came because of her concerns as a member of the Oregon California Trails Association. Linton said the Overland and Cherokee Trails are within 20 miles of proposed site.

“I came to see where and how it’ll impact my interests,” Linton said.

However, not everyone was opposed to the project.

Al Kolman, a resident of Arrowhead Springs, said he is in favor of the project.

“I have confidence in the BLM and Rock Springs Grazing; I know it’ll be done right,” Kolman said.

The proposed wind farm will consist of up to 100 wind turbines with 72 planned for development. While the project’s planned development lists up to 250 megawatts of electricity generated, Greg Probst, director of the northwest region for enXco, said they will probably generate 150 megawatts because enXco doesn’t have the transition agreements for more than 150 megawatts.

The turbines won’t be visible from Rock Springs or Green River and most of I-80.

The company doesn’t expect a record of decision from the BLM to be finalized until September 2015.

“Certainly having a willing partner and community support is key for the project to move forward,” Nate Sandvig, site developer for enXco’s project, said.