Horizon open house

By Valerie Franklin March 26, 2010 09:54 am

Public encouraged to attend, ask questions

As most people in Union County know, Horizon Wind Energy — the owners and operators of the Elkhorn Valley Wind Farm near Telocaset — has proposed a second wind farm known as the Antelope Ridge Wind Farm.
Horizon’s operating Elkhorn Valley Wind Farm provides jobs, significant taxes and fees, and economic investment for Union County. Horizon’s proposed Antelope Ridge Wind Farm will provide more jobs, additional revenue for local services and greater economic investment for Union County.

The Elkhorn Valley Wind Farm provides the best indication of the economic benefits the Antelope Ridge Wind Farm would bring. During the nine-month construction process to build the Elkhorn Valley Wind Farm, more than 150 local construction workers were employed. Between Horizon and Vestas employees, who perform regularly scheduled maintenance on the 61 wind turbines at Elkhorn, there are currently 15 full-time long-term employees — 14 of whom were hired locally. Just as important, the economic activity generated by operating and maintaining this facility creates the equivalent of another 24 full-time local jobs.

Based on a rigorous independent economic analysis conducted by local economic consulting firm Pareto Global, Antelope Ridge will create another 20 full-time family-wage jobs, approximately 165 local construction jobs and another 32 equivalent full-time local jobs from the economic activity.

Elkhorn Valley adds a significant amount of value to the local tax base —supporting local services like roads, schools and fire protection. In fact, according to Union County Assessor Linda Hill, Elkhorn Valley Wind Farm represented over 9 percent of Union County’s property tax revenue supporting important community services in the 2008-09 tax year. The proposed Antelope Ridge facility, which is a $600 million investment, will generate a similarly significant amount in local taxes and fees.

As The Observer recently noted, and as we are proud to agree, Horizon has worked diligently to be a “good community partner for the past few years.” As a long-term member of the Union County community, Horizon intends to keep up this effort and spirit of community partner. To that end, Horizon Wind Energy is voluntarily hosting an informational open house Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Blue Mountain Conference Center in La Grande.

The open house will have information tables so members of the public can ask questions and get answers on a variety of subjects, including the proposed Antelope Ridge Wind Farm; the operating Elkhorn Valley Wind Farm; Horizon Wind Energy and the wind industry as a whole. The Oregon Department of Energy’s Energy Facility Siting Council will also have an informational table as will the City of Union.

In addition, there will be opportunities at the open house for interested contractors and subcontractors to register their businesses so we can continue our commitment to hire locally and invest in the Union County economy. We also welcome conversations with those potential job applicants regarding Horizon Wind Energy’s hiring process.

Wind energy is a critical component of the development of clean, renewable energy made right here in the USA — helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and making America more secure. Horizon Wind Energy is proud to be partners with the Union County community in developing Eastern Oregon’s renewable energy economy, as well as of our strong record of environmental responsibility, job creation and community partnership.

We look forward to continuing the conversation with the Union County community at our open house on Tuesday.

Valerie Franklin is project manager of the proposed Antelope Ridge Wind Farm for Horizon Wind Energy.