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Draft EIR available for wind-energy project in eastern Shasta County

The draft environmental impact report for a controversial wind-energy project in eastern Shasta County has been published.

The public has until 5 p.m. Sept. 18 to comment on the environmental document.

ConnectGen wants to build the project, called Fountain Wind, on nearly 4,500 acres six miles west of Burney and one mile west of the existing Hatchet Ridge wind project.

The new wind turbine proposal would be on leased timberland near the communities of Montgomery Creek, Round Mountain, Oak Run, Moose Camp, Big Bend and Wengler.

Per the draft EIR, Fountain Wind would feature up to 72 wind turbines that could be as high as 679 feet – higher than Shasta Dam. The project would have a maximum generating capacity of 216 megawatts, enough to power more than 200,000 homes, according to a formula from the Lawrence Livermore Labs.

Last summer, a citizens’ group that opposes the project had asked the county to place a moratorium on any more large generation projects.

Citizens in Opposition to the Fountain Wind Project said the nearly 38,000-acre forested area that the turbines would be located within is in a high fire hazard zone.

Paul Hellman, the county’s director of resource management, said he does not know when the project would come before the Planning Commission for final approval. The project would go before the Board of Supervisors if the commission’s decision is appealed.

“It’s really too early to predict that,” Hellman said of a Planning Commission date. “Once we receive all the comments, we will have to evaluate them, prepare responses, and we really don’t know until we see the magnitude of comments” how long that will take.