A combined attempt to halt a 25 MW wind project in the Columbia Gorge in Washington state goes to trial on September 18. The Yakama Indian Nation and the Columbia Gorge Audubon Society contend that the 91 turbine project would kill endangered bird species such as eagles and peregrine falcons. Planned by a consortium of eight public utility districts known as Conservation and Renewable Energy System (CARES), the project would be the first to use FloWind's AWT turbines. The trial date was set by Yakima County Superior Court in late July. The demonstration wind plant is also being delayed by discussions among federal officials over how to cope with bird kills in terms of poorly worded federal law, which apparently omits the issue of "incidental takes" or routine kills. Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), a federal power marketing agency, has agreed to buy most of the wind farm's output, but has yet to issue a record of its decision. A negative wire story on the matter in mid July, by the Associated Press and distributed to virtually every US newspaper, had sent shockwaves through the renewables community by stating that the project was on hold. It quoted BPA's Kathy Fisher as saying, "We are still trying to solve the avian issues that existÉ That's a really big stumbling block." Ben Wolff of CARES, however, still expects to have the project in the ground by the end of 1997. "There's an issue out there, but it's not a fatal one." He also notes that such a path finding demonstration project inevitably necessitates solution solving. "By virtue of the fact that we're going through this kind of process, we're succeeding," he says.
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