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Washington state will decide permit for 235-turbine wind farm near Tri-Cities

UPDATED: Fri., Nov. 6, 2020

Tri-City Herald

Tri-City Herald

A Colorado-based company plans to apply to the state of Washington for approval to build the Horse Heaven Wind Farm just south of the Tri-Cities in the coming months.

Plans announced so far call for the wind farm to stretch along 24 miles of the ridgeline of the Horse Heaven Hills south of Kennewick to near Benton City. It would include up to 235 wind turbines, plus solar panels and battery storage.

Scout Clean Energy had initially said it would seek a permit from Benton County, but announced on Friday it would use the alternate method of applying through the Washington State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council. That’s the state board charged with the siting of major energy facilities.

“In recent months the project size and scope have expanded, adding to the environmental review complexity,” said Dave Kobus, Scout’s lead project manager for the Horse Heaven Wind Farm. Initial plans did not include solar energy and battery energy storage.

“EFSEC provides a ‘one-stop’ siting process for major energy facilities and will ensure robust public involvement opportunities that match or exceed the local permitting process,” he said.

The EFSEC board includes a representative from the state’s Departments of Ecology, Commerce, Fish and Wildlife, and Natural Resources, plus the Utilities and Transportation Commission.

Because the proposed wind farm is in Benton County, the county is expected to be allowed to add a voting member to the siting council.

Benton County also will review the application for consistency with local land use and zoning laws.

At the end of the EFSEC review – which includes public meetings, independent experts, environmental studies and formal hearings – EFSEC will forward a recommendation to Gov. Jay Inslee for a final decision.

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