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Public Hearing on Scout Energy Horse Heaven Wind Farm Project

March 30 @ 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Free
 Public Comment will be accepted during the Public Information Meeting and Testimony will be accepted during the Land Use Consistency Hearing. Scout Wind Energy and EFSEC staff will be available to answer questions about the Horse Heaven Wind Farm and the EFSEC review process.
Meeting Location – The Public Information Meeting and Land Use Consistency Hearing will be held virtually due to public health concerns related to the spread of the novel corona virus (COVID-19). We appreciate your participation and thank you for your patience and understanding.
You may attend the meeting via Skype online or via phone at:

Open House – March 30, 2021, 5:00 – 5:30 PM: The Applicant and EFSEC staff will be available to answer questions about the Project and the EFSEC review process.

Informational Public Meeting – March 30, 2021, 5:30 – 7:30 PM or last speaker, whichever comes first: As required by RCW 80.50.090 (1) and WAC 463-26-025 EFSEC will hold a Public Informational Meeting. At this meeting, the Applicant and EFSEC staff will make presentations. Also, at this meeting, Counsel for the Environment, an Assistant Attorney General appointed by the Washington Attorney General will be introduced and will explain the duties of this position. Public comment will be taken during this meeting. To sign up to speak at this meeting please send an email to efsec@utc.wa.gov or call EFSEC staff at (360) 664-1345 before 5:00 pm on March 30, 2021.

Land Use Consistency Hearing – March 30, 2021, 7:30 – 9:00 PM or last speaker, whichever comes first: As required by RCW 80.50.090 (2) and WAC 463-26-050 and 463-26-060 subsequent to the informational public hearing, at approximately 7:30 PM EFSEC will hold a Land Use Hearing. During this hearing, the public will be given an opportunity to provide testimony regarding the proposed Project’s consistency and compliance with land use plans and zoning ordinances. To sign up to give testimony at this hearing please send an email to efsec@utc.wa.gov or call EFSEC staff at (360) 664-1345 before 5:00 pm on March 30, 2021.

Note: The Land Use Consistency Hearing will begin no later than 30 minutes after the conclusion of the Informational Public Meeting, which may end before 7:30 PM.

 If you are unable to attend these meetings please send your comment in writing to efsec@utc.wa.gov or at the mailing address below. Please do not email your comments directly to EFSEC staff or the Chair, only send to the EFSEC inbox.
To sign up to speak at this meeting please send an email to efsec@utc.wa.gov or call EFSEC staff at (360) 664-1345 before 5:00 pm on March 30, 2021. Please include your name and the phone number you plan to call from if you are attending the meeting over the phone. This will help us identify you at the virtual meeting. Virtual Comment drop box:
You may submit your comments to our electronic database as a sort of virtual comment drop box similar to our comment box at in-person meetings. The campaign will only appear in the electronic database at 5pm to Midnight PST on March 30th.
Description of Proposal: On February 8, 2021 Horse Heaven Wind Farm, LLC (Applicant) submitted an Application for Site Certification (ASC) to the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) to develop, construct and operate the Horse Heaven Wind Farm Project (Project). The proposed Project location is in Benton County south of Kennewick and will have a maximum generating capacity of 1,150 Megawatts (MW). The Applicant has requested review under EFSEC expedited process for the ASC. An ASC may be eligible for expedited review when the EFSEC Council finds (1) the environmental impacts of the proposed project are not significant or can be mitigated to non-significant levels and (2) the Project is consistent and in compliance with city, county, or regional land use plans.
The ASC and other materials are posted on the EFSEC website: www.efsec.wa.gov . Copies of the ASC will also be provided to the Washington State Library and to local libraries.
SEPA Threshold Determination Required: A threshold determination is required to determine whether an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required. The threshold determination will be made based on the probable project impacts identified in the information presented in the ASC. A threshold determination of non-significance (DNS) may be issued if the SEPA responsible official (EFSEC Manager) determines there will be no probable significant adverse environmental impacts. An EIS is not required if a DNS is issued.
Points to consider for your comments:The Scout Energy proposal to install wind turbines with 1150 MW capacity in the Horse Heaven Hills (HHH) has encountered stiff local opposition that spans the political spectrum. Is there an alternative to a winner-take-all resolution of this controversy? I believe there is.

Much of the opposition is focused on the impact of the wind turbines on migratory birds and the view scape.

Rather than oppose the HHH wind farm for the sake of birds, why not negotiate with Scout Energy to work with Audubon, which supports properly sited wind power, to choose turbine sites that minimize turbine impacts on migratory birds? And use the findings of recent controlled studies that have found bird deaths from turbines are reduced 70% by painting one blade black.

Rather than deprive the HHH land owners of thousands of dollars per turbine in rent royalties each year, and Benton County of an estimated $20 million in annual property tax revenue (7.6% of current county property tax revenue, and $100 per resident), why not negotiate with Scout Energy to choose turbine sites and heights that eliminate the visual impact to the bulk of the residents in the Tri-Cities?

In 2014, a Benton County Conservations Futures initiative was on the ballot. It would have used a modest property tax to raise revenue to preserve land through purchase or conservation easements. The tax amounted to $12 per year on a median priced home. If it had passed, the revenue could have been used to compensate the HHH land owners for wind energy royalties lost from preserving the view scape. But it failed.

You can think of HHH wind farm property tax revenue as compensation for the remaining visual impact. That revenue could be used to purchase and preserve our beloved ridges from housing developments. Or perhaps you have other ideas for how to spend that much tax revenue.

Consider the case of humble Sherman County, Oregon. Before wind power was installed there, it had been one of the poorest counties in Oregon. Now it has a new library and two new city halls, a sewer system, new schools, and a new senior citizens center. Every resident is paid $590 per year by the wind energy industry. Maybe we can learn something from them.  – Steve Ghan

Another suggestion: Compromise with much smaller and fewer wind turbines, keep the solar project, and suggest use of advanced (modular) reactors.

 

Details

Date:
March 30
Time:
5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Cost:
Free
Website:
https://www.efsec.wa.gov/event/2021/horse-heaven-informational-meeting-and-land-use-hearing

Organizer

Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council

Venue

Online