Umatilla County Board of Commissioners took a stand against a wind farm, concerned the development would harm farmland.
Wheatridge Wind Energy LLC seeks to build a 500 megawatt, 292-turbine wind farm in Morrow County and on a section of Umatilla County. But the company’s preliminary application to the Oregon Department of Energy and its Energy Facility Siting Council does not address where it would install transmission lines. That violates Umatilla County planning requirements.
Commissioner Larry Givens said at the board’s meeting last week the transmission lines would have negative effects on irrigated farmlands in Umatilla County. The board voted 3-0 against the application and found Wheatridge failed “to provide adequate evidence to comply with Umatilla County and state of Oregon standards” and the “application does not comply with relevant state law standards and should be denied.”
The adoption of the findings came after the board on Sept. 9 rejected the application for the same reasons. Givens and Commissioner Bill Elfering at that meeting were critical of the company’s application for being vague about where it would install the lines. Elfering said the company did not even specify where it would place substations and needs to show where those lines would go.
The county last Wednesday also voted to pay $22,607 to Kellington Law Group of Lake Oswego for its work on reviewing this case and making recommendations. Givens explained the situation involves how the Wheatridge project relates to the Navy’s bombing range in Morrow County and to the Boardman to Hemingway project, the 500 kilovolt electric transmission line that would run from a substation near Boardman to the Hemingway substation near Melba, Idaho. Due to the complexity, he said, county planning director Tamra Mabbott and county counsel Doug Olsen suggested outside assistance.
Mabbott told the commissioners the county is seeking reimbursement for the lawyer fees from the Oregon Department of Energy. The county also notified the state agency and the siting counsel about opposing the Wheatridge application.
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