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Desert Claim Wind Power Project, WA

TYPE:  Wind Power Project

STATUS:  In progress, with opposition

OPPOSITION:  Kittitas County officials; local residents

BACKGROUND:  EnXco wants to build a wind farm on 5,200 acres, north of Ellensburg, Washington. With 95 turbines and 190-megawatts of power generating capacity, Desert Claim could generate enough power for 57,000 homes. It is a $330 million project. The project would create 200 jobs during construction. 

The company hit an impasse when Kittitas County planning officials denied its application over concerns about the setback distance of the wind turbines from existing homes. The developer then decided to seek state approval.  A evised proposal was submitted to Washington State officials in February 2009, calling for reductions in the number of turbines as well as the number of residences that would be within a 2,500-foot setback from the turbines. Company officials say the site is near a power transmission corridor, so there would be no need to build new transmission lines, saving $500,000 to $1 million per mile in construction cost. 

On March 6, 2009, a Central Washington University study was released, which estimates that the Desert Claim Wind Power project would generate total economic activity of up to $17.3 million in Kittitas County during the year it is being built. The study also estimated that once completed and in operation, Desert Claim would generate $2.8 million in total economic activity in the county. 

Local residents organized a grassroots effort to defeat the project, claiming the issue is one of siting and the protection of residents that will be forced to live next to these types of projects. 

The Governor approved site certification for the project on February 1, 2010.  Groundbreaking was expected to begin in the summer of 2010.  

SOURCES: Yakima Herald http://www.yakima-herald.com/stories/2009/04/20/agencies-want-a-say-in-wind-farm-s-future;
BNET http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m5CNK/is_2009_March_6/ai_n31416761/;
Care2 Petition Site http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/896779246;
The Seattle Times: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2011775564_apwakittitaswindfarms.html

Last updated December 2, 2010