The Saddle Mountain Wind Farm is a go.
That was the decision following a unanimous vote by the Adams County Board of Adjustment granting permission for Horizon Wind Energy to begin construction of a wind farm on the ridge of Saddle Mountain southwest of Othello.
The public hearing was held Tuesday, Jan. 19, with a packed house in the district courtroom.
County planner Loren Wiltse presented the board with a staff report that included the findings and facts related to the codes for wind farms, along with the comments and letters his office received from concerned citizens.
“A couple years ago, the code was added to address wind facilities standards,” Wiltse said.
The project, which has been in the works for five years, will require leasing ground from several landowners.
Elon Hasson, project manager, said there are six pieces to the project — turbines, roads, a laydown yard for parts during construction, met towers, an electrical substation and an operation and maintenance building. Power produced will interconnect to the Benton-Othello transmission line.
Steve McDonald, of Blue Bird (formerly Peshatin Fruit), was at the hearing to discuss the impacts to the entrance into the orchard on Kuhn Road, which is the road that will lead to the entrance of the wind farm.
“It’s very steep in and out of the farm,” he said. “Even a six-inch change to the road bed elevation would be detrimental.”
Wiltse said any county road used by Horizon would be brought up to all weather standards in accordance with the county engineer’s decision.
“I’d ask we get some input as those decisions are made,” McDonald said. “I’ll be happy as long as my fruit can come and go.”
Colin Meskell, Horizon project manager for construction, said any improvements would utilize digging down rather than building up the road bed.
“We’re not looking to raise the height of the road,” Meskell said. “We will work to make entrances easier and find ways to make the road work for everybody.”
Hasson said because Horizon will develop, own and operate the wind farm for the life of the project, the company wants to work with its neighbors, like Blue Bird.
Now that the project has been approved, engineering work will begin. Construction should start in October or November with the building of roadways over irrigation canals and ditches.
Along with the new roads, there will be upgrading to existing roads and the installation of culverts and fords.
Local contractors will have the opportunity to bid on three parts — erection, roads and foundations and electrical work. The winning bidders will be able to subcontract for smaller pieces, such as fencing.
Hasson expects the company to employ six to eight full-time family wage jobs once the wind farm is on line.
Staff structure will consist of management and maintenance people. Technical schools are available and some on-site training will be conducted.
LuAnn Morgan, Othella Outlook – http://othellooutlook.com/?p=8194