Wind farm friends, foes await Gregoire’s decision

OLYMPIA — Gov. Cris Gregoire is expected to offer her opinion within 60 days on a proposed wind farm that would be visible from two towns in the heart of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area.

Washington state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council this week left unchanged an October decision to scale back but approve the project. It would be visible from the towns of White Salmon and Hood River, Ore.

The Oregonian reported that SDS Lumber Co. and Broughton Lumber Co. originally proposed the $150 million Whistling Ridge wind farm in 2008. They sought to put 50 turbines on 1,200 acres the companies own just outside the scenic area on the ridges above White Salmon.

The project has faced opposition from environmental groups and nearby landowners because of its potential visual and noise impacts.

In October, the council recommended removing 15 turbines from the project.

Gregoire can choose to accept, reject or send the council’s decision back for more work. Her decision can be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

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