Dear Governor Inslee and Chair Drew,
As the fifth largest chamber in the state, with a Board of Directors representing 37 businesses ranging from sole proprietors to the largest employers in Benton and Franklin Counties, the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce (TCRCC) recently responded to the concerns of community stakeholders and Tri-Citians by engaging the region in a Public Opinion Survey to determine community sentiment regarding the Horse Heaven Wind Project and to identify issues of greatest interest and concern.
The three-question survey elicited 2,220 responses over a two-week period. Results show considerable opposition (78.5%) to the Horse Heaven Wind project. The principal reason is because the negative environmental impacts of the project are believed to far exceed the potential benefits. According to survey results, the top five areas of greatest negative impact include:
- Viewshed – Destruction of a wide swath of the natural land and view scape
- Decommissioning and Turbine Disposal – Waste disposal problems
- Tourism – Obstructed views are detrimental to tourism
- Birds and Wildlife – Obstructed migratory bird path and wildlife damage
- Flashing Lights – Light pollution via red, flashing, aviation warning lights at night
Also, 80% of survey respondents think local government (Benton County) should be part of the Horse Heaven Wind Project approval process. Survey comments on this topic reflect differing levels of frustration that the voice of the community is not being heard or considered on a local project – especially one that has such great regional impact. For these reasons, the Chamber requests that EFSEC include Benton County in any decision-making regarding the Horse Heaven Wind Project.
And finally, survey participants voiced overwhelming opposition to the Horse Heaven Wind Project with over 78% of responses indicating that the project was not worth the personal, environmental, and economic impacts the project would have on the region.
The Chamber fully supports the development of clean energy. Our region is the beneficiary of abundant hydroelectric and nuclear power production. This project, however, would not displace carbon-based energy production but would only compete with already-clean sources. Also, our commitment to the community includes creating a vibrant and thriving quality of life for all Tri-Citians. The Chamber’s efforts to enhance livability, draw new talent and attract new business to the Tri-Cities begins with protecting and preserving our most valuable asset – the beautiful and expansive vistas and views.
For these reasons, the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce urges you to respect the voice of the local community by not approving the development of the Horse Heaven Wind Project.
Thank you for your consideration.
Lori Mattson, IOM
President & CEO, Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce
President, Community First Bank
Chair, Local Government Affairs Committee
Governor Jay Inslee
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002
EFSEC Chair, Kathleen Drew
State of WA Energy Facility Site Evaluation Committee
621 Woodland Square Loop SE
PO Box 43172
Olympia, WA 98504-3172
cc: Scout Energy, Benton County Commission, Benton PUD
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