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Colusa’s Walker Ridge turbine project not spinning yet

Windmill-like turbines will not be spinning along Walker Ridge in western Colusa County for at least a couple more years.

“Hopefully we will have our right-of-way grant by mid-year, 2013,” said Neil Mackie, manager of Communications for Calgary-based AltaGas.

If all goes well, the company hopes to be operational in 2015.

AltaGas first proposed the wind farm in 2006, and had hoped to have the project under construction this year.

“We are in the (US Bureau of Land Management) review process, and after that we have the public consultation,” said Mackie, who described that BLM process as very, very thorough.

The “public consultation,” Mackie said, includes distribution of information as well as public meetings about the project.

The proposal is for 29 to 42 turbines to be built on about 80 acres of a 8,157 acre area, and generate up 67 megawatts of renewable energy.

The company reportedly would sell the energy to P.G.&E, and produce enough power to meet the needs of 25,000 homes. The turbines are 240 feet high, with blades 150 feet long. Each costs about $1.5 million, company officials told county officials.

Also part of the project are an underground electrical collection system, a substation, a 115-kilovolt overhead transmission line, an interconnect station, an operations and maintenance building and access roads.

The project would take about eight months to build, and when completed, who create four to eight full-time jobs, and generate an estimated $17 million-$20 million in sales tax annually, which would be divided between Colusa and Lake counties.

The farm would operate for about 20 years.

The Colusa County Chamber of Commerce endorsed the project in March 2011, and while the reaction from neighboring property owners has been mostly positive, there have been some concerns.

Among some of the issues raised are visual and wildlife impacts, as well as impacts that come from construction in a remote area and impacts from the transmission lines.

Mackie did not have a budget number for the cost of the project.