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Wind company appeals proposed power line route

The Umatilla County commissioners are scheduled Monday to hear an appeal of a permit denied for a power line connecting a proposed wind farm near Athena to a regional grid.

WKN Chopin, a subsidiary of WKN USA, also known as Windkraft Nord, asserts the planning commission failed to follow the county comprehensive plan when it denied the permit in November, according to papers the company filed Dec. 6.

WKN has permission to build a 99-megawatt, 33-turbine wind farm between Milton-Freewater and Athena. The planning commission approved the WKN wind-farm permit Oct. 10.

Blue Mountain Alliance, a conservation group proposing stricter guidelines on wind-turbine sites in Umatilla County, appealed that decision. The three-member board of commissioners upheld the planning commission approval Nov. 30.

Nov. 17 the planning commission denied WKN a permit to build a 230-kilovolt power line to link that wind farm to the regional grid. The power line route runs along rights-of-way south and east from the wind farm to a PacifiCorp line in the Blue Mountains.

The WKN appeal cites five ways the planning commission didn’t comply with the county comprehensive plan. The planning commission was wrong, according to WKN, to require a technical and engineering feasibility study.

WKN also argues it need not choose the most direct route between its wind farm and the power grid, as the planning commission wanted. WKN said it chose its route to avoid interfereing with the viewshed on Highway 204, the Tollgate Highway.

WKN also disagreed with the planning commission on the company use of farm and/or urban land in the proposed power line route.