Latest Update on Horse Heaven Hills Windfarm Project
The Washington State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) has released the Final Environmental Impact Statement concerning the proposed Horse Heaven Hills wind farm. This image shows old discarded wind turbine blades and parts in Texas.
The impact statement admits some environmental and other damage to the area
According to an analysis of the EIS performed by Tri-City C.A.R.E.S, a prominent citizen and business group that opposes the project, here are some of the important points in the study.
They utilized the 193-page Executive Summary, which condenses much of the lengthier report.
Tri-City CARES says overall, very little changes have been made to the project. The number of turbines has been reduced from 244 to 231, and they must be at least a half-mile away from "non-participating" homes.
The FEIS recommends a two-mile buffer for known documented hawk nests in the area but does not provide any protection for empty hawk nests. Tri-City CARES says Ferruginous hawk nests can be left empty in some years, but are often re-used by the birds over many-year periods.
The FEIS also identifies several direct and indirect impacts on historical and cultural resources, including "partial or complete loss of archaeological resources and traditional cultural properties and resources."
It also says turbines would dominate the existing landscape and viewshed. It also admitted the project poses a recreational health and safety threat to hangliders.
According to Tri-City CARES, alternatives to mitigate (or remedy) these and other issues with the project were not considered because it would involve removing more turbines than what the applicant (Scout Energy) had asked for. According to the FEIS:
(pursuing alternatives or removing turbines would) bring the project below the needed nameplate capacity required by the applicant.”
What comes next?
EFSEC will utilize the EIS and all other data, testimony, and appropriate information to create a recommendation that has to be reported to Gov. Inslee by January 31st, 2024. They will either approve or deny the Scout Energy application to proceed with the project.
Then, Governor Inslee has 60 days to either approve it, deny it, or require further study (send it back for more study).
If it is approved by the Governor, the only remaining opposition tool is to file a lawsuit with the Washington State Supreme Court.
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Gallery Credit: Katelyn Leboff