Governor Gregoire has chosen to do the right thing although not everyone agreed. She has given the go-ahead to the Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project to build up to 65 wind turbines on ridges overlooking Route 97 northwest of Ellensburg in eastern Washington.
Back in July Governor Gregoire had asked the Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council to re-evaluate the project based on concerns of local rural residents opposed to the Project. At the time we felt Governor Gregoire was tilting at windmills and needed to show leadership.
With an emphasis to build them as far away as possible from residences, the go ahead was significant in that it overrode local opposition to the project by the Kittitas Couty Board of Commissioners.
The Seattle Times quotes US Congressman Doc Hastings, a supporter of nuclear power from the TriCities area as saying, “I fear this precedent will embolden energy companies to bypass local leaders and go to the Governor to have projects imposed on communities.”
Funny thing, I seem to remember that this was exactly what the nuclear power industry tried to do in Washington State back in the 1970’s and 1980’s when they were promoting the WPPSS nuclear power plants at Satsop. I doubt you’ll find any similiar quotes from Hastings back then supporting local opposition to those projects.
Washington voters, by passing Initiative 394 back in 1981, said that they didn’t want to be indebted for bonds for large public energy projects without having a vote first. Washington voters last year actually voted to promote more renewable energy use in Washington State with the passage of Initiative 937.
The Kittitas Valley Wind Project represents a significant step in meeting the goals of Initiative 937 to achieve 15% of our energy from new renewable energy resources like wind by 2020. Governor Gregoire has made the right decision by listening to the voters and acting in the public interest.