Over 40 percent of the lands in Malheur County have been designated as core habitat for sage grouse by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife ("ODFW"). Other counties in southeastern Oregon are also heavily affected. ODFW’s approach was to simply recommend against any development in core habitat, without consideration whether off-site mitigation could result

We’re very pleased to report on a significant energy siting victory achieved by our client SDS Lumber Co. and its subsidiary, Whistling Ridge Energy LLC, at the Washington Supreme Court yesterday. We believe the decision sets an important precedent for energy facility siting in Washington. The case is Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Inc. and Save our Scenic Area vs. State Energy Facility Siting Council and Governor Gregoire, et. al., No. 88089-1.

At issue was the approval of a wind energy project to be sited near the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Then-Washington Governor Christine Gregoire had approved the project in March 2012 following recommendation by the State of Washington’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC). Two environmental groups, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Inc. and Save our Scenic Area, then sued in an attempt to get the site approval overturned.

On August 29, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled there was "no basis" to reverse the EFSEC’s recommendation or the Governor’s approval, and dismissed the appeal. In so doing, the Court gave an unequivocal affirmation for an objective, criteria-based process for the approval of energy projects. The Court confirmed that it will defer to EFSEC and the Governor when the siting decision demonstrates consideration of the entire record and sound application of regulatory standards.

Stoel Rives represented Whistling Ridge Energy, LLC, throughout the three-year approval process, and prevailed in demonstrating the project’s compliance with a host of federal, state and local regulatory standards. As the Court noted (quoting EFSEC), the comprehensive approval process "set a record for length, volume, and number of issues addressed." We subsequently represented Whistling Ridge throughout the trial and appeals process.Continue Reading Washington Supreme Court Establishes Important Energy Siting Precedent

After years of uncertainty, the Wisconsin legislature allowed statewide wind energy siting rules to go into effect today. The new rules (known as “PSC 128”) require wind turbines to be located at least 1,250 feet from the nearest residence and at a distance 1.1 times the height of the wind turbine from the

Late last week, an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) found that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (the “Commission”) is not obligated to consider or apply a county wind ordinance containing siting standards that are stricter than the Commission’s statewide standards. And even if the Commission were obligated to consider and apply the more stringent standards, the

On June 8, 2010, Utah Governor Gary Herbert launched a formal planning process for the Utah Energy Initiative.  Over the past several months the members of the Utah Energy Initiative Task Force and various subcommittees have conducted public hearings and a series of meetings to gather input for purposes of drafting a 10-year strategic energy plan.  The Energy Initiative Task Force issued a draft report on November 3, 2010.  Written comments on the draft report are due by November 10, 2010 and should be submitted to abuchholz@utah.gov.  A public hearing at which public comment will be accepted will be held on November 10, 2010 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., at the Senate Building (State Capitol complex east building), Room 215, Salt Lake City, Utah.

The energy plan outlined in the report contains the following themes:

  1. Economic Development and Energy Jobs
  2. Energy Development and Environment
  3. Energy Efficiency, Conservation and Demand-Response
  4. Transportation and Air Quality
  5. Transmission, Infrastructure and Transportation
  6. Developing and Applying Technology and Science

Continue Reading Utah Energy Initiative Task Force Issues Draft Plan

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle has signed a bill into law that will require the state Public Service Commission (PSC) to promulgate rules establishing common standards for political subdivisions to regulate the construction and operation of wind energy systems.  The legislation seeks to address the patchwork regulatory framework created by local jurisdictions’ development of their own siting regulations, and to address

On October 28, 2008, the Ohio Power Siting Board adopted rules implementing certification requirements for wind generating facilities in the state.  The full text of the opinion and order approving the rules identifies the procedural background followed by the PSB and highlights comments received from all interested parties (including utilities, citizen groups, and AWEA).  The The rules