Public comment periods wind down on wind farm

A hearing on the conditional use permit will be held Nov. 5.

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POMEROY -- The public comment process is moving forward on several fronts toward determining whether the 1,432-megawatt Lower Snake River Wind Energy Project will be approved for Columbia and Garfield counties.

Puget Sound Energy Inc. proposes to independently build, own and operate the project, which includes approximately 795 turbine locations in an area of approximately 124,000 acres in Garfield and Columbia counties.

If permits are approved, construction on infrastructure in Garfield County is projected to begin in 2010, with towers installed in 2011.

A separate conditional use permit application is expected to be filed in Columbia County before the end of the year, with turbines expected to be installed in 2012, according to Anne Walsh, senior environmental/communications manager at PSE's Dayton office.

The conditional use permit is the land use permit, and there are other permits to be obtained before construction can begin, Walsh said.

An open record public record hearing on the conditional use application will begin Nov. 5 at 9:30 a.m. in the main building at the Garfield County Fairgrounds.

Deadline for written comments on the project's application is Friday at 5 p.m. Comments should be submitted to Garfield County Planning at the county auditor's office, P.O. Box 278, Pomeroy, WA 99347.

Written and oral comments may also be submitted at the hearing.

The hearing examiner will also hear an appeal of the final environmental impact statement filed by Tucannon River Valley landowners Richard and Vicki Ducharme.

The appeal is based on failure to consider reasonable alternatives, deferred environmental analysis, visual impacts, noise, mule deer habitat, project impacts area larger than project specific area, turbine setback, and failure to consider cumulative impacts.

To view documents related to the environmental impact statement and the conditional use permit, go to: co.garfield.wa.us/landservices, and click on "Lower Snake River Wind Energy Project -- CUP #012609."

In a related matter, comments on the proposal by Bonneville Power Administration to build a new 500/230 kilovolt substation along its two existing Little Goose-Lower Granite 500-kV transmission lines will be accepted through Nov. 16.

The new facility, called Central Ferry Substation, would require approximately 25 acres of land in Garfield County, west of State Route 127 and south of the Snake River. The substation would be located adjacent to the existing transmission line rights-of-way.

The proposal is in response by a request by Puget Sound Energy Inc. to interconnect up to 1,250 megawatts of electricity generated from PSE's proposed Lower Snake River Wind Energy Project in Garfield and Columbia counties.

Comments on the proposal may be submitted to BPA online at bpa.gov/comment, via mail to Bonneville Power Administration, Public Affairs -- DKE-7, P.O. Box 14428, Portland, OR 97293-4428 or by fax to 503-230-3285.

More information about BPA's proposed interconnection of the wind project is available by calling 800-622-4519, or visiting the BPA Web site: transmission.bpa.gov/PlanProj/Wind/

Carrie Chicken can be reached a cec@innw.com or 522-5289.

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