Some time ago I started studying wind farms and their benefits and costs in areas where they have been developed.
I heard over and over again that the Oregon Department of Energy approves all developments and the Energy Facility Siting Council rubber stamps those approvals. Oregon has never refused any wind farm no matter how inappropriate it might be. I have personally watched the EFSC approve amendments the members stated they knew were wrong, but they said they were powerless to do anything about it.
Don’t taxpayers deserve to get value for their money?
The Oregon Department of Energy recently developed a list of new applications and amendments. The EFSC sits wringing their hands and asking why so many? They all know why. It is because of the money. ODOE is hiring new staff and planning to move into a new building. There is a simple way to get control of these applications and the workload associated with them. Repeal the statute that denies the public and the EFSC the authority and the requirement to do a cost/benefit analysis on wind farm applications. If these wind farm developers want to access public funds, they should have to prove they are offering the taxpayers something of value and that the costs do not exceed the value.
Why are those who disagree with a decision denied contested case hearings?
It is taking a lawsuit just to get the ODOE to allow a contested case to be heard on the approval of the amendment for the Helix Wind Farm in Umatilla County. Don’t we as citizens have the right to due process and equal protection under the law? Everyone with even a limited exposure to the wind farm siting process seems to be aware that there are problems with how the ODOE is interpreting the statutes, but they won’t let them be aired in an impartial contested case setting.
Why is it taking more than two years to issue a decision?
The Antelope Ridge Wind Farm application was completed two years ago, but the ODOE still has not issued a proposed order. The Oregon statutes require the application to be processed within 12 months. Why are the citizens of Union County continuing to be exposed to the stress, conflict and economic damages that result from the uncertainty about what the environment may be like as a result of a potential wind farm in Union County?
Isn’t it time for the ODOE to start doing their job? Why are we as taxpayers being required to support additional staff for an agency that is refusing to do the job they were created to do and which is unwilling to be challenged regarding their actions no matter how questionable they may be?
Irene Gilbert is legal research analyst for the Friends of the Grande Ronde Valley, 2310 Adams Ave., La Grande OR 97850.