March 8, 2022
Opinions, Washington

WA Gov. Inslee ‘clearly doesn’t care what we think’ about wind turbines in the Tri-Cities

WA Gov. Jay Inslee out of line on Tri-Cities wind project | By Barry Bush | Tri-City Herald | March 07, 2022 |

Does Governor Jay Inslee understand the energy industry? Those of us who live in the Tri-Cities do. Recently, the Governor made comments while visiting that suggest that wind turbines are the cure-all for all of our ails. He is wrong and he knows it.

Let’s take a look at his comments one by one.

“Wind Energy is a way to reduce forest fires.” This is not true. The fact of the matter is that the more turbines you build the more transmission needs to be built. Next time you drive over Snoqualmie Pass take a look at the massive transmission lines that traverse the Cascade Mountains going east to west. These are similar to the ones that have caused massive fires in California over the last decade. More transmission lines equal more fires.

“In the past year 250,00 salmon have died in the Columbia River.” This is a massively inflated number and is without context. Does this number include accidental early releases of smolts into the Columbia River? What about the bird deaths that will occur as a result of building a wind project in the middle of the Pacific Flyway? What about the Endangered Ferruginous Hawk that lives in the middle of the planned Horse Heaven Hills project? Does the Governor know that the state of Washington currently has a program designed to save the Ferruginous Hawk called the “Washington State Recovery Plan for the Ferruginous Hawk?”

“The visual impact is offset by not having children choking with asthma in the summer.” The governor and all of those who want the Horse Heaven Wind Project live hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles away. They will not have to look at them for the next 30 years. President Biden has been pushing offshore wind. This is due to the fact that it is not necessary to build more intrusive transmission lines, and we can site the turbines close to the load centers in Western Washington where the energy is needed. Why does Governor Inslee refuse to even consider putting turbines offshore? Why do those who live in Western Washington think it is permissible to destroy the Eastern Washington environment in order to satisfy their insatiable thirst for more energy?

“They also create jobs.” It is true that the building of turbines creates temporary construction jobs. After the project is complete the project may employ up to 30 people for a nameplate 1150MW project that will produce energy about 28% of the time. These are jobs that pay a living wage, but very few jobs are actually created. The Horse Heaven Hills wind farm is expected to employ about .026 jobs per Megawatt produced. Compare this to the Columbia Generating Station, which generates about 1207MW and employs 1000 people or 1.20 jobs per MW. The Columbia Generating jobs are generally far more technical and pay much higher salaries.

The Horse Heaven Wind Project is expected to erect up to 250 Space Needle-sized turbines that could be as much as double the height as the current turbines in South Kennewick. The project is also expected to take up land that is similar in size to the city of Seattle.

The Columbia Generating Station has been picked as the location for small modular nuclear reactors. These reactors are base load plants that create energy all of the time. The Tri-Cities is a nuclear community with vast experience in the industry. These small modular energy projects will not require any more land as they will go on the existing site of Columbia Generating Station.

The Governor clearly does not care what we think. Almost every local political entity has come out against the Horse Heaven Hills project. Not one has come out in support. Over 80% of the population is against the project. He simply does not value our opinion. If he did, he would have met with the city councils and electric utilities that oppose this project. He simply does not understand that the Horse Heaven Hills are our Yellowstone, and are valued as much to us as Mount Rainier is to Western Washington.

The Horse Heaven Wind Project is currently in front the Washington State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC).The comments regarding this project from the Governor are out of line and were clearly meant to influence the council. Based on the governors’ actions, he should recuse himself from all things that relate to the Horse Heaven Hills project. It is clear that he has already rubber stamped the project without hearing from EFSEC.

Barry Bush is currently a Benton PUD commissioner, but wrote this as a private citizen.

URL to article: