Life in Bay Center on Willapa Bay

Living in a maritime fishing village in Southwest Washington state on Willapa Bay

Wind Power Plans Coming to Pacific County? Will the communities accept new eco-industry?

Posted by pallix on November 21, 2008

article at Daily Astorian

If a project isn’t sold to the community it will struggle to gain public acceptance

There are suddenly plans for a lot of wind-based power generation blowing into Washington’s Pacific County, possibly a hint at what may occur in many of the coastal counties of Oregon and Washington in the years ahead.

A "joint operating agency" of Washington state electricity providers is planning an 82-megawatt wind turbine farm in the Naselle area, with completion of up to 45 wind turbines eyed in 2011. A smaller, very interesting four-turbine project is getting started in northern Pacific County and southern Grays Harbor County. In total, all this may be enough to power some 40,000 average-sized homes.

The Pacific Northwest and the nation need more of the relatively clean energy that wind farms provide. Pacific County can use the construction and operation jobs that Radar Ridge would generate along with electricity. A similar-sized plant in Calgary cost about $140 million Canadian in 2006, perhaps not far different than what the local project will cost in U.S. dollars a year or two from now. That’s a mighty big and mostly welcome investment.

At the same time, it’s important to note that phalanxes of giant wind turbines have not met with universal acclaim everywhere they’ve been constructed. Residents often complain about the impacts they have on landscape, bird migration, traffic, hunting access and other rural values.

Quoting Canada’s National Post, "Activists now decry windmills with a fervour once reserved for nuclear plants. To some, it seems strange to waste time railing against a power source that does not generate greenhouse gases, is relatively quick to construct and can serve as a powerful symbol of a community’s environmental convictions. They say critics are only displaying a modern strain of ‘Not In My Backyard’ syndrome.

"Opponents, however, say they are driven by concerns about windmills’ effects on everything from bird migration to health to property values to earthworms.

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