In a decision of great importance to the wind energy industry, the Washington State Supreme Court this morning upheld the approval of Horizon Wind Energy’s Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project. See Residents Opposed to Kittitas Turbines v State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC). The wind project will be located to the east and west of Highway 97 approximately 12 miles northwest of Ellensburg in Kittitas County, Washington, and is permitted for up to 65 wind turbines. With a proposed installed capacity of approximately 100 megawatts, the project will be able to generate clean renewable power for approximately 30,000 average homes each year.
The Washington Supreme Court’s unanimous decision sets important precedent on the authority of the Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) to offer “one-stop” licensing for large energy projects. Horizon Wind Energy had worked collaboratively to get approval of EFSEC, Gov. Chris Gregoire and many governmental environmental agencies and nonprofit groups. However, some local residents and the Kittitas County Commission opposed the project and argued that EFSEC could not preempt the County’s authority under the Growth Management Act. The Washington Supreme Court rejected their arguments. Developers wishing to site wind and other energy projects in Washington now know what the Washington EFSEC can do, and many of the principles articulated in the decision will be helpful to the wind developers fighting similar battles in other states.
My colleagues Tim McMahan and Erin Anderson, who have worked tirelessly on behalf of Horizon Wind Energy in pursuit of this result, are preparing a summary of the Supreme Court’s sixty-page decision. We’ll be sending out the summary and its implications as an Energy Law Alert shortly. If you’d like to sign up to receive Stoel Rives Energy Law Alerts, you can do so by clicking on this link and filling out the form.
In the meantime, for stories covering the Washington Supreme Court’s decision, see: