STATUS: Prolonged Delay
OPPOSITION: Audubon Society; Environmentalists
BACKGROUND: Energy Northwest has proposed the Radar Ridge Project, which would install 32 wind turbines in Pacific County near Naselle. The project is valued at over $200 million. Construction would create about 100 jobs and operation would create 15 full-time jobs.
Environmental groups argue that rotating blades of the wind towers would endanger a threatened bird species that nests near and flies over the ridge. The utilities say they've shown that the chances of a marbled murrelet being hit by wind blade in any given year would be less than fifty-fifty. Environmental groups dispute that conclusion, and the wildlife service has demanded more environmental studies than the PUDs originally planned on.
In May 2010, the project suffered a financial setback when backers refused to invest more money into the project, stating that investing more is too risky because of opposition from environmental groups. Energy Northwest and PUDs in Grays Harbor, Pacific, Mason and Clallam counties already have spent more than three years and some $3 million on planning the project. Much of the money has been spent measuring the danger to marbled murrelets.
Energy Northwest doesn't have another utility lined up to replace Grays Harbor, which has been responsible for more than one-third of the development costs. The wildlife service stated that it would try to make a decision by the end of 2011. However, if the decision drags on, the utilities could miss the opportunity to take advantage of $122 million in low-interest federal bonds. Lawsuits could further drive up costs.
SOURCES: Energy Northwest: http://www.energy-northwest.com/radarridge/;
The Daily News: http://tdn.com/news/local/article_a7944854-63b0-11df-af7e-001cc4c03286.html; http://tdn.com/news/local/article_1f29266c-7132-11df-9dae-001cc4c03286.html;
Conservation Northwest: http://www.conservationnw.org/pressroom/press-clips/wind-farm-project-kind-of-in-limbo-at-clallam-pud
Last updated December 2, 2010