500-foot Turbines Would Stretch Over 24 Miles
by Annette Cary
KENNEWICK, WA -- A wind farm along 24 miles of the ridgeline of the Horse Heaven Hills is proposed south of the Tri-Cities.
The new project is planned to include as many as 212 turbines in rows from near Jump Off Joe Butte to the southwest, with much of it south of Badger Road. It would wrap around the already operating Nine Canyon Wind Project.
Scout Clean Energy, based in Boulder, Colo., could start construction on the Horse Heaven Wind Farm as early as October, said project manager David Kobus, who also worked on the Nine Canyon Wind Project.
About 6,000 acres of land will be leased from dry land wheat farmers, including farms growing wheat and those with land in conservation reserves, Kobus said.
In addition, about 1,600 acres would be on Washington state Department of Natural Resources land.
Scout would use turbines comparable to the largest on Energy Northwest's 75-acre Nine Canyon project. The turbines would stand below the 500-foot height with a blade fully extended, which is the limit to meet air space restrictions.
The new project could generate about 600 megawatts of electricity.
In comparison, Nine Canyon has a maximum output of about 96 megawatts of electricity.
Energy Northwest's commercial nuclear power plant near Richland, the Columbia Generating Station, can generate 1,207 megawatts, which is enough to power a city the size of Seattle, plus some of its metro area.
The Horse Heaven Wind Farm was initially proposed as a 250-megawatt project, but has been expanded.
BENTON COUNTY WIND FARM PERMIT
Scout Clean Energy expects to submit a conditional use permit application needed to use the land for a wind farm to Benton County in a matter of weeks, Kobus said. It would include an environmental checklist.
Kobus expects the county application to be completed as soon as early March.
Then a public hearing would be held, followed by a second public hearing at which the county hearings examiner would present conclusions on the application.
If the process proceeds as Scout Clean Energy hopes, a county permit could be issued in July.
The company then would need to find buyers for the electricity that would be produced. It could have buyers in place in time to start construction of wind turbines in October.
The company also will be working with the Kennewick Irrigation District, to get an easement to the Bonneville Power Administration's Red Mountain substation.
It also plans to coordinate with the Benton Public Utility District to work out an agreement to co-locate a transmission line with an existing PUD line.
A second substation would be built at Bofer Canyon and Beck roads south of the Tri-Cities by Highway 395.
The wind farm would be visible from Highway 395 south of the Tri-Cities to the northwest of the Nine Canyon wind farms.
At Benton City the tops of turbines could be visible, but partially hidden by Bureau of Land Management land to the south and southeast of the town.
Scout Clean Energy has wind farms operating in Oklahoma, Texas and California, with projects under construction in Indiana and Texas.
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