Hatchet Ridge Wind Project Approved

Enhanced Photo Showing Turbines on Hachet Ridge

Enhanced Photo Showing Turbines on Hatchet Ridge (click to enlarge)

After you read this post, please see the update.

!UPDATE! 12-1-08 PG&E Buys Into Hatchet Ridge Project

First the good news.

BURNEY – Shasta County officials Thursday night unanimously approved plans for a 6 1/2-mile-long string of wind turbines along a ridge overlooking Burney.

County planning commissioners voted in favor of the 100-megawatt project atop Hatchet Ridge after listening to three hours of testimony during a public hearing that drew about 200 people to the Mt. Burney Theatre. Commissioners approved the electricity-generating project on a 5-0 vote.

“Overall we believe it is a good project,” said David Rutledge, the commission’s chairman.

The project’s developers were happy with the vote and will move forward in building the 43 turbines, said George Hardie, senior developer for Babcock and Brown, the project’s lead financier.

“We hope to start next spring,” Hardie said.

And of course the NIMBY’s must have their say.

But the project likely isn’t finished being reviewed by county officials just yet.

Opponents of the project, whose combined turbines and towers would reach 418 feet skyward, said just after the vote that they will appeal the decision to the Shasta County Board of Supervisors.

Ken Archuleta, a Burney man and project critic, said the commissioners’ quick vote after a short amount of discussion once the public microphone was turned off Thursday shows commissioners didn’t completely weigh the arguments against the project.

“They didn’t listen to a thing they heard,” Archuleta said.

The deadline for an appeal is Tuesday.

During his time before the commission, Archuleta questioned why the developers didn’t look at nearby ridges that aren’t visible from downtown Burney.

Other critics said the turbines would destroy land sacred to American Indians, wound and kill birds and simply be an industrial eyesore complete with red, blinking lights.

Among the critics of the project Thursday night were several members of the Pit River Tribe, who said the turbines would be put on ground they consider a “church.”

The tribe will look for a way to stop the project, possibly by filing suit in federal court, said Jessica Jim, the tribe’s former chairwoman.

“We already have an attorney,” she said.

Here’s the rebuttal.

The project’s developers want to build on Hatchet Ridge because it has the most wind energy in the area, Hardie said. They studied shifting the location to a spot on Hatchet Ridge not visible from town, but the amount of energy that the turbines would produce dropped 30 percent to 40 percent, he said.

“We cannot move the project down the hill,” he said.

Supporters of the project said the project would help the country address its need for renewable power, provide jobs in Burney and draw interested onlookers to the Intermountain area.

“I find the units fascinating to watch,” said Terry Hufft, who lives between Montgomery Creek and Burney with a view of Hatchet Ridge.

The turbines would be built on land owned by a pair of timber companies, Sierra Pacific Industries and Fruit Growers Supply Co., and would be most visible from Main Street, or Highway 299, through downtown Burney.

“I think the benefits far outweigh the negatives,” Planning Commissioner Shirley Easley said after her vote.

So here’s my take: The project is on private land, being built by private investors with their own money. It will bring jobs and money to town. That alone is enough to approve the project. Also, it is supplying extra electricity using already existing powerlines, not being used as a primary source of power. Burney needs the revenue and jobs. It’s a good deal. Oh, and did I mention, It’s on Private Land being built by Private Investors? No tax payer dollars will be harmed by this project. On the contrary, it will bring in much needed tax dollars.

And just in case you wanted to know, yes, it is virtually in my backyard. Hatchet Ridge was burned bare during the Fountain Fire in ’92. It aint much to look at anyway, the turbines won’t harm the view very much. (see photo at top)

Get the facts. Hatchet Ridge Wind

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