Radar Ridge Project
by Mike Marsh
Community members and public officials gathered at the Grays Harbor PUD in Hoquiam last week for a public scoping meeting on the planned Radar Ridge Wind Project in Pacific County. The meeting was a chance for officials to inform the public on where the project stands and to give citizens a chance to comment publicly on the project.
Two more meetings are planned for this week, the first on Tuesday at Naselle High School from 6 to 9 p.m. and then again Wednesday at Raymond High School from 6 to 9 p.m.
"It's really about getting information to the public and getting their comments," said Liz Anderson, community and government relations director with the Grays Harbor PUD.
The Radar Ridge Wind Project is a partnership between four pubic utilities -- Grays Harbor PUD, Pacific County PUD, Mason County PUD No.3, Clallam County PUD -- and Richland-based Energy Northwest, the project developer. The project, located on property owned and managed by the Department of Natural Resources approximately 3 mile northeast of Naselle, consists of installing and operating up to 32 wind turbines that will generate enough energy to power up to 18,000 homes, according to project officials.
Partners in the project intend to fulfill renewable energy requirements mandated by Washington's Energy Independence Act, which passed in 2006. The act requires utilities with 25,000 or more customers to provide 3 percent of the energy needed to serve their customers from non-hydro renewable resources by 2012. By 2016, the number increase to 9 percent and by 2020, 15 percent.
Utilities face penalties for failure to comply.
At the meeting, project officials discussed why wind power was so important to the area, why Radar Ridge was an ideal location, and the minimal environmental impacts the project would have.
Officials also presented wildlife studies that were conducted, including studies on migration patterns and breeding habits of raptors and bats; northern godhawks, and marbled murrelets, an endangered bird with critical habitat in the area. The main concern is whether or not the turbines will cause fatal bird strikes.
While partners hope to have the wind turbines operating by late 2011, the project is in a critical phase. Before construction begins, the project must submit permit applications.
In order to attain the permits, the project must comply with the Federal Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. The project must also comply with Washington's State Environmental Policy Act.
These assessments will take place once all public comments have been collected and reviewed.
"We're doing our due diligence on the environmental side so that we're developing a site with the least environmental impact," said PUD manager Rick Lovely.
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