Scout Clean Energy has withdrawn its application to the state for expedited processing of its application to build a wind farm stretching 24 miles along the Horse Heaven Hills south of the Tri-Cities.
Its application to the Washington state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council will move forward, but no longer with a request to shorten the process.
The state council may approve expedited processing for projects in compliance with land use plans and zoning ordinances and if the environmental impacts of the project are found to be not significant or could be mitigated to a level that makes them not significant.
“Scout completed a robust environmental checklist as part of our application materials, and were confident our project met the criteria for expedited review,” said Dave Kobus the lead project manager for the proposed Horse Heaven Wind Farm.
“However, we received feedback that some members of the local community were concerned the process may limit public involvement, and took that to heart,” he said.
It notified the state council that it is willing to pursue a full environmental impact statement to allow a robust environmental review with full participation by local residents and others, he said.
The announcement came Monday evening, less than 24 hours before the first Washington state public information meeting and hearing on the project.
It is set for 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 30. Questions will be answered from 5 to 5:30 p.m., followed by a presentation and then a public hearing.
Anyone wishing to comment must sign up by 5 p.m. the day of the meeting by calling 360-664-1345 or emailing email@example.com. Comments also may be emailed to that address or mailed to EFSEC, P.O. Box 47250, Olympia, WA 98504.
The meeting will be held online via Skype at bit.ly/EFSECmeetingHH and also will have telephone access at 360-407-3810. The meeting ID is 6702140#.
Scout Clean Energy is proposing a 112-square-mile clean energy production site, with wind turbines that would stretch along the Horse Heaven Hills from south of Finley to south of Benton City. The developed area of the project would cover about 10 square miles.
The Colorado-based company is considering two options.
One would have 244 turbines standing up to almost 500 feet tall.
The other option would be to install fewer, but taller, turbines. There would be 150 turbines standing up to 670 feet tall.
The Seattle Space Needle is 605 feet tall.
The project also will include solar facilities and battery storage systems for an energy generating capacity of up to 1,150 megawatts.
Nearly 70 landowners, some of them who have farmed south of the Tri-Cities for generations, have reached agreement with Scout Energy to lease their land.
Tri-Cities port opposed
The latest local opposition to the project comes from the Port of Pasco, which announced Monday that it was concerned the wind turbines would damage the scenic vistas of the Tri-Cities area, harming tourism and economic development.
The project might hamper flights to and from the Tri-Cities Airport, which the Port of Pasco operates, the port said in a resolution approved by commissioners. An airspace study has not been done, it said.
Commissioners also are concerned that a disproportionate share of wind turbines are being placed in southeast Washington state, with almost none in Western Washington or coastal waters.
“The fair treatment goal of environmental justice means no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental and commercial operations or policies,” it said.