Whistling Ridge Deals With Brand-new Legal Obstacle

November 7, 2015 Nemes Legal

More than two years after the Washington State Supreme Court supported its approval, a controversial wind farm in Skamania County finds itself the topic of yet another legal difficulty.

A brand-new petition submitted in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals intends to block a current choice by the Bonneville Power Administration enabling the Whistling Ridge Energy Project to link to the regional power grid. The challenge argues that BPA didnt adequately examine the impacts of the wind farm prior to making its choice.

The action adds more uncertainty to a task that has remained in limbo for many years. The Whistling Ridge wind farm was very first proposed in 2007. Its still waiting to break ground.

The latestThe current difficulty was filed by Buddies of the Columbia Canyon and Conserve Our Picturesque Location the same two environmental groups that submitted an earlier, and ultimately unsuccessful, attract a previous choice. Challengers of the job keepremain to stress exactly what they believe are unfavorable impacts to wildlife and views in the Columbia River Canyon.

Its all about location, stated Nathan Baker, staff attorney with Friends of the Columbia Gorge. This is one of the worst locations in the state of Washington to put a wind job.

The Whistling Ridge wind farm would put 35 turbines on personal forestland in Skamania County, just outside the boundary of the Columbia River Canyon National Scenic Area. Many of the projects 1,152-acre area would continue to be used for commercial forestry, as it has for years, according to Whistling Ridge. The actual footprint of the wind farm is much smaller, according to the business.

Whistling Ridge Energy LLC is a subsidiary of SDS Lumber. Business president Jason Spadaro said the $50 million project would be a benefit for a financially ailing county, and offer sustainablerenewable resource for the area. Eco-friendly energy requirements in Washington, Oregon and somewhere else ware set to increase in the years to coming, he said.

Theres just more demand for cleaner power, Spadaro said.

The projects small size means it would produce fairly little power, and not enoughinsufficient benefit to justify its effect, Baker stated. Spadaro has mentioned the rather uncommon situation of having an environmental group combat a proposed wind farm that would promote sustainable energy.

BPA announced its permission of the Whistling Ridge task with a record of choice in June. The petition challenging that action was submitted this month.

Weve got the petition filed in the Ninth Circuit by Pals of the Columbia Gorge, the agency stated in a statement. Since this matter includes active litigation, we have no remark at this time.

Whistling Ridge was individually authorized by then-Gov. Chris Gregoire in 2012, following an earlier suggestion by the state Energy Center Website Assessment Council. The choice was appealed, and ultimately verified by the state Supreme Court in 2013.

At the time, Spadaro stated the energy market and financial conditions wouldnt permit the job to progress. That still appears to be the case today, Spadaro said Friday. But that may change in the future, he included.

Economics are always altering, Spadaro said. The value of energy, and especially the value of renewable energy, is always changing.


Comments are currently closed.