Tooting our own horn is reserved for the Saturday editorial, which is only read by our most loyal readers. Often when a newspaper expresses its pride, the tune can sound out of key to readers who don’t share the opinion.
But it was the role the newspaper played in creating awareness within the community that caught our attention this week.
Wednesday, Arizona Audubon announced it will file an objection to a special use permit granted to Red Horse 2, LLC, and Torch Renewable Energy, LLC, for the operation of a wind farm on 220 acres of land between Benson and Willcox.
The decision to grant that permit was decided April 10 by members of the Cochise County Planning and Zoning Commission. Reporter Shar Porier attended and the wind farm story was published in both the Herald/Review and the Arizona Range News in Willcox.
Local Audubon member, Tricia Gerrodette, said after reading the newspaper article, the statewide organization “strongly objects” to the granting of the permit and the erection of 28 wind turbine towers.
Arizona Audubon is based in Phoenix and lists nine chapters across the state, a research ranch and a 600 acre historic audubon center on its website at az.arizona.org.
Its objection to the development of a wind farm is based on the impact of these turbines on the local bird population. Towers can measure 497 feet high, with blades 197 feet long.
Wind farm development has become an argument in many places across rural America, where land owners are sometimes confronted with tough choices. They can dot their properties with a landscape of large spinning turbines and receive some compensation, or the property can be farmed or lay fallow, to the benefit of birds and other natural habitat.
There is also the generation of electricity, which in this case is expected to be 51-megawatts. Wind farms are one way to add to the supply of available electricity without constructing a costly new power plant. The benefit for the developers is a state law that requires public utilities to purchase the electricity generated by the private sector, thereby creating a return on investment – together with tax credits – for the wind farm business.
We’ll learn more about the Arizona Audubon objection when representatives of the organization step before the Cochise County Planning and Zoning Commission at its June 11 meeting.