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Whistling Ridge Project Moves Foward

Final EIS released

The Final Environmental Impact Statement on the Whistling Ridge Wind Generaton Project in eastern Skamania County has been released to the public and has been reviewed by members of the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council.

Council staff announced the developments for the Whistling Ridge application in an Aug. 16 public statement that also apologized for the FEIS not being available to the six-member council at its Aug. 3 meeting.

In addition, the statement noted, "The council has reached its decisions on the issues in the adjudicative proceeding and a draft order has been circulated to the members."

The plan going forward for the council -- which is now at step seven in a seven-step certification process -- included a 15-day period for each member to review the FEIS individually in consultation with council staff.

"Council members will not discuss the FEIS among themselves but are expected to state individually, to staff, their assessment of whether and how the adjudication order and FEIS should be considered in support of a recommendation to the Governor," the Aug. 16 statement noted.

Stephen Posner, compliance manager for the council, said Tuesday the council had completed its 15-day review of the FEIS and planned to hold a follow-up one-day meeting in Stevenson in late September or early October. (The document is posted on the council's Web site, efsec.wa.gov.)

During that public workshop -- at which no testimony will be taken or accepted -- the council will discuss the proposed adjudication order, the FEIS and, possibly, a draft Recommendation Order and/or a draft Site Certification Agreement (SCA).

"On the meeting day, the council will consider all information and may make a final determination concerning a recommendation to the Governor. A public notice for the meeting should be issued soon," Posner said.

Moreover, "The council workshop will conclude with a `sense of the council' on questions of whether the council's draft adjudication order is ready for signature and service," the statement read, "[and] the council members, having considered the adjudication order and the FEIS, are prepared to make a recommendation to the Governor, including an SCA."

In June, the council denied a motion by intervenors Friends of the Columbia Gorge and Save Our Scenic Area to reopen the the adjudicative record for "new" additional evidence concerning Bonneville Power Administration's policy for declining power from wind projects "at certain times of day, under limited circumstances, when the agency's need to generate power for environmental reasons exceeds its capacity to transmit power." Intervenors wanted to present the supplemental evidence to raise questions about the feasibility of the Whistling Ridge Energy Project.

In a council order issued on June 21 the council relied on precedent in rejecting the intervenors' motion.

"The council ruled in prehearing orders that insofar as `need for power relates to the financial viability of the applicant's project,' it is not a matter for council consideration," the order stated. "This is consistent with the council's prior review of a merchant plant that was affirmed in Residents Opposed to Kittitas Turbines v. State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, and we affirm the earlier rulings."

Moreover, the council determined the BPA policy cited by the intervenors as new evidence "is discussed in the record and has been briefed."

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