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United States

Governor uses nuclear law to clear the way for wind

Horizon Wind Energy has won a hard fought battle in Washington State in its nearly five-year effort to secure permitting for its Kittitas Valley wind power project. The project is opposed by the local Kittitas County and an opposition group comprised mostly of local landowners not participating in the wind project's land lease payments. Horizon had originally sought approval for 121 turbines but dropped the number down to 65. Opposition persisted and the Kittitas County Board of Commissioners held firm against the project. To ease concerns, the state's Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, which oversees where power plants are built, required Horizon to increase the turbine set-back from local homes and approved the project, with the backing of Governor Chris Gregoire. Reportedly, it is the first time a Governor has overturned a local decision about a power plant by using a 1970 law intended to clear the way for controversial nuclear projects. "It is the clear and compelling policy of the state to prefer new resources that have the least impact on our state's natural environment," said Gregoire. A state law from 2006 requires utilities supply 15% of their electricity from renewables by 2020. Among those watching developments closely is Enxco, which hopes to win approval of its 180 MW Desert Claim wind project located a few kilometres east of Horizon's wind project.

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