The Skookumchuck Wind Energy project continues to move forward, although the parameters have changed again, with all of the 38 turbines located in Lewis County as part of updated plans.
Sean Bell, senior development manager of RES Americas, provided a brief update to the Board of Lewis County Commissioners on Monday.
Once completed, the wind turbines are expected to produce 136.9 megawatts of renewable energy. Once it is developed, it will be sold to Puget Sound Energy, Bell said.
The turbines are “wholly located in Lewis County at this point,” Bell said.
The energy-generating windmills will be on Weyerhaeuser property located approximately 15 miles southeast of the Centralia TransAlta plant near the Lewis-Thurston county line, Bell said.
In October, Lewis County commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding that laid out the roles of each agency involved in the project and designated Thurston County as the lead agency for the State Environmental Policy Act process.
Originally split into two counties, significant concerns presented by some removed the turbines that were earmarked for Thurston County. Bell said RES Americas will now be working with Lewis County. An environmental impact statement is in progress, but Bell said he didn’t believe a determination had yet been made.
The first proposal submitted was for 51 turbines, with the majority landing in Lewis County, but after concerns were raised, the number of turbines has been reduced to 38, cutting out the ones proposed for the property in Thurston County.
Bell stated the odds for the turbines in Thurston County were questionable because of the features of the northern ridge. Joint Base Lewis-McChord expressed some concerns, and the turbines potential to “take” – either kill or threaten birds – was also raised. Questions on the effects the turbines would have on the marbled murrelet were also raised, leading to the change in plans. The small seabird flies inland to nest in old-growth forests along the Pacific Coast. The birds have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 1992.
Bell stated he has been in discussions with various groups on the topic, and also stated the company would come up with a habitat conservation plan to ease concerns.
“The current hope is it will be permitted, approved and ready to go in 2018,” Bell told The Chronicle.
According to the company’s website, RES Americas is “the world’s largest independent renewable energy company with a 12 GW portfolio and the expertise to develop, engineer, construct, finance, and operate projects around the globe.”
The company “is active in a range of energy technologies including onshore and offshore wind, solar, energy storage and transmission.”