The state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, or EFSEC, will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Hal Holmes Community Center to consider a recommendation to Gov. Chris Gregoire on whether to approve the 95-turbine, $330 million Desert Claim Wind Power Project.
EFSEC officials estimate a final decision by the governor could come in early February 2010 at the latest.
The wind farm, proposed by the French-owned firm of enXco USA Inc., is planned for eight miles northwest of Ellensburg spread on 5,200 acres north of Smithson Road.
The project was the focus of EFSEC meetings in Ellensburg in July, and the seven-member council has deliberated behind closed doors twice since then to reach consensus on its recommendation.
Allen Fiksdal, EFSEC manager, said council members will vote during the Monday public meeting on issuing a recommendation on the wind farm in the form of an administrative order from EFSEC.
“At this point, the order would either be for its approval or denial,” Fiksdal said earlier this week.
If EFSEC recommends approval, the order will contain a draft site certification that outlines the conditions enXco must follow in building and operating the wind farm.
A recommendation of approval for the project by EFSEC would also include a decision to pre-empt or override county land-use rules related to the county commissioners’ April 2005 rejection of an earlier version of the project.
That initial version had 120 turbines, and commissioners voted to reject it stating it wasn’t compatible with the surrounding land-use.
Officials of enXco on Feb. 6, 2009, filed with EFSEC a revised plan that called for 95 turbines in a new configuration that they said significantly reduces, by 75 percent, the number of rural residences located within 2,500 feet of planned wind turbine locations.
Company officials said the 2,500-foot setback was what county government sought as the buffer in talks with enXco in 2007.
In any case, the Monday order also will contain EFSEC’s findings of facts and conclusions of law to support its approval or rejection.
Once the order is issued by EFSEC, enXco has until Nov. 30 to request EFSEC reconsider all or parts of its decision. Parties to the EFSEC process will then have the opportunity to respond to EFSEC about any reconsideration request.
If no request for reconsideration comes from enXco, the recommendation is expected to reach the governor a few days after Nov. 30.
At that point Gregoire has 60 days within which to make a final decision.
By MIKE JOHNSTON, Daily Record – http://www.kvnews.com/articles/2009/11/12/news/doc4afc504ab49c6976614452.txt