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New permitting route for Zilkha's 181 MW Washington project

Zilkha Renewable Energy has taken its application for its 181.5 MW Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project in central Washington to the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC), initiating a permitting process that is likely to take up to ten months. Although EFSEC has never reviewed a wind power project, "from a business perspective, we need to have a permit we can bank on," says Zilkha's Chris Taylor. Although the state permit process is more rigorous, he explains, the appeals process is shortened. An appealed county permit can take several years, he says. That does not mean Zilkha is sidestepping its work with county residents. The application to EFSEC includes the same environmental studies and visual and noise impacts that a county siting permit application would include. EFSEC will also hold public consultation hearings in Kittitas County. Zilkha has already altered its plans by dropping or moving wind turbines in response to local concerns. The project will use 121, 1.5 MW machines, although Zilkha has not yet chosen a turbine manufacturer. Nor has it completed a power purchase agreement. An EFSEC permit is only required on power plants larger than 250 MW and is optional for renewable resources. Zilkha aims to complete the project in 2004.

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