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Wind Project With Governor's Office

Review could take 60 days

The recommendation package for the Whistling Ridge wind power project in southeastern Skamania County is now being considered by the office of Gov. Christine Gregoire.

The state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Committee (EFSEC) transmitted its proposal, including a draft Site Certification Agreement for the proposed wind farm, to the Governor on Jan. 5. That started the clock ticking on the Governor's review, which could take up to 60 days. The Governor's options are to approve the proposal as recommended, deny it or send it back to EFSEC with instructions for reconsideration.

Project proponents Whistling Ridge Energy Partners applied to EFSEC in March 2009 for a permit to operate a 75-megawatt windpower project on 1,152 acres of private commercial timberland west and northwest of Underwood Mountain, and owned by SDS Lumber Co. and Broughton Lumber Co. EFSEC recommended granting the permit with conditions in December 2011, after a nearly three-year-long review process.

Part of that recommendation includes disapproving the placement of three wind turbine strings -- 15 turbines total -- that would be visible from key viewing areas in the Columbia River Gorge or too close to residential developments on Underwood. The effect of that recommendation would be to reduce the number of turbines from 50 to 35.

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