Environmentalists oppose desert wind farms

Environmental groups disapprove of Columbia Energy Partners’ proposed Harney County wind farms.

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Randy Fulton, economic development director for Harney County, has been working with Columbia Energy Partners to develop four new wind farms in the county.

Environmental groups, including the Oregon Natural Desert Association, the Audubon Society of Portland and the Oregon chapter of the Sierra Club oppose the project, saying it would have detrimental effects on the desert’s wildlife.

Fulton said he understands the desire to preserve the county’s beauty, but he doesn’t want to see environmental concerns outweigh a project’s economic potential.

“Everyone says they love Harney County because it’s beautiful,” Fulton said. “But we have 20 percent unemployment. There are a lot of good things these groups do, but we’re going to save ourselves to death.”

Fulton says this project would inject nearly $1 billion into his county, which has lost all income and employment associated with the timber industry that once helped the area thrive. Construction of the project’s four wind farms could create 60 to 70 jobs, and the four farms would each need eight full-time employees to maintain the turbines, Fulton said.

Read the full story at the Daily Journal of Commerce.

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