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Commissioners uphold wind farm recommendation  

Credit:  George Plaven | East Oregonian | Published on April 14, 2016 | www.eastoregonian.com ~~

A California-based wind energy company plans to build four to six turbines on private farmland north of Weston, with construction to begin later this year.

The Chopin Wind Project will generate 10 megawatts and connect to Pacific Power’s electrical grid via an underground transmission line. Developer BayWa Wind says it will break ground shortly before summer and aim to finish by fall. Turbines could range in height from 262 to nearly 300 feet.

Chopin has morphed into a much smaller project than when it was originally proposed in 2011. At the time, developers planned for 33 turbines and 99 megawatts, which raised concerns from a local conservation group over noise and effects on wildlife, the viewshed and property values. Umatilla County approved the turbines, but not a proposed 11-mile overhead power line.

Progress stalled. In the meantime, the county altered its setback standards for wind turbines located near homes. In August 2015, Chopin came back with a revised proposal for significantly fewer turbines and an underground transmission line. The Umatilla County Planning Commission approved building permits in January, despite some additional concerns about how the project might impact farming.

Specifically, a group of landowners wanted to see construction moved away from Staggs Road – where a portion of the line will be buried – over to Ferguson Road to avoid losing productive acreage. They filed an appeal to the Board of Commissioners, which voted 2-1 on Wednesday to uphold the planning commission’s ruling.

Commissioner George Murdock said the line will still run under Staggs Road, but they have asked BayWa to use Ferguson Road whenever possible during construction and maintenance of Chopin.

“They agreed to work with the farmers to minimize the impacts,” Murdock said. “There should be minimal impact along Staggs Road, because it shouldn’t take very long to lay the cable.”

Commissioner Larry Givens was the dissenting vote.

Chopin’s wind turbines will take up about 10 acres of Ferguson Ranch between Weston and Milton-Freewater. The transmission line will be buried at least three feet under county roads, running about 5.5 miles to Pacific Power’s existing Weston Substation.

BayWa CEO Florian Zerhusen did not say how much the project will cost. He said there is demand for the development under Oregon’s rising mandate for renewable energy.

“This project will certainly continue that effort,” Zerhusen said.

Murdock said the project will contribute to the local tax base, but he does not expect it will have an enormous impact on the county.

Source:  George Plaven | East Oregonian | Published on April 14, 2016 | www.eastoregonian.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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