Take a close look at wind farm

By Observer Upload February 24, 2010 02:26 pm

Citizens of Union County have a proposal for a wind energy generation facility to be constructed on the southern end of the valley, in close proximity to Hot Lake and the city of Union. Preliminary documents portray a project we feel is fiscally wasteful, aesthetically grotesque and environmentally damaging, and as a result we feel a need to highlight some issues.

Local budgets are lean yet our county commissioners are willing to forgive millions of dollars in revenue by allowing development under a Strategic Investment Program. Federal stimulus money, a large percentage that will be going out of country, is mainly responsible for the project development. Once constructed state tax dollars will be subsidizing the project at an approximate rate of $23.34/MWH.

The southern valley viewshed will be aesthetically disconnected from the northern due to a complete lack of visual impact sensitivity, in project design, to a viewshed that adds much to our quality of life. Prime examples of viewshed protection are the views of Mount Emily and the eastern side of the valley towards Mount Fanny and Eagle Cap Wilderness. Mount Emily and Mount Fanny being federally managed viewsheds are maintained through a process for evaluating aesthetic qualities and prescribing design elements and/or mitigation. This same process is currently being recommended, at the national level, as the standard for aesthetic evaluation.

Lacking national and state unified energy policy adequate for citizens to reasonably analyze and conclude, we find no compelling reason for our community to absorb this impact. Oregon wind resource maps illustrate numerous alternate sites that do not appear to directly impact population centers. Considering Oregon’s 2025 goal for renewable energy available to our main utilities is well ahead of schedule due to excessive tax dollar giveaways we feel the minor contribution of this project to the above goal does not justify the documented impacts and degradation.

This proposed facility is unique to Oregon, possibly to the USA, with the density of towers juxtaposed to a comparable population center with a comparable viewshed. This illustrates a fact that current siting rules/regulations are not adequate to protect citizens as these massive projects try to come online while the huge tax incentives are available.

We hope taxpayers and citizens of Union County take a hard look at this project and make their voices heard at city, county, state and federal levels. For more information, call Friends of the Grande Ronde Valley at 541-805-9566 or 541-568-4585.

Letter signed by Charles and Cora LeBold, Michael and Evelyn Merriman, Bonnie Dunn, Leonard and Cheryl Flint, Dianne and Rod Jones, Sarah Watson, Bill and Betsy Paxton and Ken and Raynell McCormack, all of Union.