After listening to those who spoke on the matter of Arizona Audubon’s appeal to add a condition to the special use permit for Red Horse 2 wind farm, county Board of Supervisors’ member Richard Searle suggested six new conditions which were approved and the appeal denied unanimously.
During Tuesday’s [June 11] meeting, speaking on behalf of Arizona Audubon, Tice Supplee, director of bird conservation, explained that the purpose of their appeal was not to stop the 51-megawatt wind farm. Arizona Audubon supports alternative energy sources.
All the members wanted was to ensure through an added condition to the permit that Torch Renewable Energy, LLC, worked closely with Arizona Game and Fish (AZGF) on continuing studies of the protected bald and golden eagles, avian and bat populations and other possible wildlife and environmental impacts, she continued. AZGF has no regulatory powers and following the agency’s requirements were only “voluntary.” Adding the proposed condition would make the continuation of studies regulated and formal.
Searle’s modifications did that and more.
Searle stated his recommendations as: “The applicant shall submit the preliminary screening and pre-construction study plan to AZGF with a copy sent to the county; continue its environmental monitoring program and studies and submit findings to AZGF and a copy to the county; use commercially reasonable efforts to reduce any potential negative impacts to avian species, specifically eagles, and bat species; develop an invasive weed control plan which will be provided to AZGF and the county; and install no more lighting than required by the Federal Aviation Administration.”
Though county planning staff asked for $3 million cash up front to cover any costs for road repair or reconstruction, Searle’s sixth suggestion was to change that to cash or bond.
He also said he had visited the site and believed that the turbines would be “visually nonexistent” in the rural, unpopulated area north of I-10 locally known as Allen Flats.
Supervisor Ann English thought that the county was duplicating requirements of other agencies. She said she didn’t understand “why the public wants the county involved” when there are no biologists and other specialists on staff to look over the studies as they are provided.
“How will we know what they say is correct,” English asked. “Why do we need to require what other agencies require?”
“I think we can improve on what the commission determined in April,” replied Searle.
Supervisor Pat Call asked Killberg if he would accept Searle’s conditions and he replied, “Yes.”
Call also said in talking with AZGF staff he was satisfied with the interaction taking place and added that there was substantial support for the project.