Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Steens Mountain Wind Power Development: Comments Due 1/16 to Harney County Planning Commission

Now more than ever we need to develop clean, green, efficient sources of energy. And wind power is certainly one attractive alternative to fossil fuels. But this particular proposal is flawed on many levels (see message from ONDA below). Please comment to the Harney County Planning Commission by 5:00pm on January 16th, 2009. -hoc

Steens Mountain is threatened by wind power development
Columbia Energy Partners (CEP) has submitted applications for two sites—East Ridge Wind and West Ridge Wind—that could install over 130 wind turbines on the north flank of Steens Mountain near the Kiger Gorge Overlook and the North Loop Road.

The developer already holds a county permit for up to 69 turbines on a third, adjacent site on Mann Lake. The development has been divided into multiple parts to try to avoid rigorous review by the State's Energy Facility Siting Council and the developer has done virtually no analysis to date of the development's potential impacts to wildlife.

Comments are due to Harney County Planning Commission by 5:00pm on January 16th, 2009. Visit the Harney County Planning Commission website for more information on the proposed wind project and to read comments.

Comment Now

Points to consider:

  • The application does not consider the transmission infrastructure necessary to connect Harney Electric Cooperative and Bonneville Power Administration systems which would cross Steens Mountain and the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.
  • CEP has avoided the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council and Oregon Department of Fish Wildlife guidelines by arbitrarily "splitting" their 300 MW project into three sites.
  • The developer has only provided a few months of biological information. Far less that the two years of pre-construction data voluntarily agreed to by the wind development community and called for by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.
  • This area on Steens Mountain provides important habitat for Greater sage grouse which are currently a candidate being considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
  • 40-50% of the cost of these projects ($100-$125 of tax equity value for each project according to information supplied by Columbia Energy Partners) will come from tax credits covered by public funds and therefore the public should be fully engaged in this process.
Visit ONDA’s website for more information and to see the visual impact the wind farms would have on the Steens.

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