Klickitat County in southern Washington is proposing to develop an "energy overlay zone" that could ease the red tape involved in siting new generation facilities, including wind. It plans to develop an environmental review of the entire county as a way to streamline the conditional use permitting process for both wind and gas generation and to direct new generators to areas where they would be most beneficial and acceptable, says Klickitat County Commissioner Don Struck. The process could help the county and energy developers avoid conflicts, such as that over a 1 MW project in the Columbia Hills between Dennis White, who says he represents a local Audubon Society chapter, and Mariah Energy, which is owned by Michael Kitchen (Windpower Monthly, November 2001). After considerable environmental work, Kitchen won county approval, but only after seven-and-half years of bitter debate with White over bird migration routes. Struck says the county wants to streamline the process, especially for wind projects that could give farmers additional revenue. "Agricultural folks on the eastern end of the county believe these projects could coexist with farming. Wind power can prop up or subsidise agricultural folks, to allow farmers to stay in business," he says.
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