Oregon DOE seeks more information from Horizon about proposed wind farm

Horizon wants to place wind turbines in the area of Craig Mountain near Union. On Aug. 27 the department issued Horizon a second Request for Additional Information, or RAI, giving the company until Sept. 30 to revise and clarify previously submitted information on a host of issues.

Horizon filed its preliminary site application with ODE in October 2009. The following December, the department issued a first RAI. Horizon filed its response in February of this year.

The new RAI asks for updated information of length of underground and overhead collection lines, number of wind turbines proposed, length of new roads to be constructed, potential location of an operations and maintenance facility, and a host of other issues.

“The department has determined some of the issues raised in the first RAI were not adequately addressed and that new issues have arisen since the first RAI was issued,” Energy Facility Siting Officer Sue Oliver wrote in an Aug. 27 letter to Horizon Project Development Manager Valerie Franklin.

Horizon’s proposal to build the 300-megawatt Antelope Ridge Wind Farm in the area of Craig Mountain near Union has generated much local controversy.

One concern voiced by opponents are impacts on wildlife. The newest RAI notes that Horizon plans to revise some wildlife-related documents, including a finalized big game study, a sage grouse survey memorandum, a response to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife comments and more.

The department said in the RAI it will withhold comment until the new material is submitted. At the same time, it asked for more information on possible impacts on several identified sensitive species, including white-tailed jackrabbit, western toad and western painted turtle.

Another section of the RAI deals with impacts on wetlands. The department says there are several issues that need to be resolved concerning those.

In all, the new RAI considers 30 exhibits previously submitted by Horizon. A few of the exhibits are deemed complete; in a few others, the department acknowledges that Horizon may need time beyond the Sept. 30 deadline to respond.

Franklin said Tuesday that the state’s siting process often includes several RAIs. She said she didn’t want to hazard a guess as to when Horizon’s application will be deemed complete.

The main job now, she said, is to answer the department’s second request.

“We’re focused on getting the information gathered and we’re aiming to have it back to them on time,” she said.

In Union County, an advisory vote on whether county residents favor Antelope Ridge Wind Farm construction is on the Nov. 2 election ballot.

That vote is non-binding. The state’s Energy Facility Siting Council has jurisdiction over the wind power application and will approve or disapprove based on objective standards.

EFSC’s siting process includes local public hearings once the application is deemed complet

By Bill Rautenstrauch, The Observer, www.lagrandeobserver.com/