Washoe County planners OK wind farm | SierraSun.com

Washoe County planners OK wind farm

RENO, Nev. ” Washoe County planners have unanimously approved a 44-turbine wind farm north of Sparks, siding with proponents who touted job creation over concerns from neighbors about aesthetics.

Officials with Nevada Wind say the $190 million project will produce enough power for up to 36,000 homes, and generate about $1 million a year in local government taxes after an initial infusion of $7 million in sales and other taxes during the first year of construction.

Many workers attending the Wednesday night meeting wore green T-shirts saying, “Vote Green Jobs.”

“It means jobs for me,” David Cogley, a laid off crane operator, told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

“I think it’s about time we get with the times,” he said. “It’s new technology and something that will benefit us for years to come.”

The turbines on private easements in the Pah Rah Range will stand 300 feet tall and have blades spanning 250 feet.

Critics argue the towering turbines and construction activity will disrupt their rural lifestyles and forever alter the landscape.

“We want our roads protected, we want our visual impacts and noise mitigated,” said Larry Johnson, a 16-year Warm Springs resident and member of Save Our Valley, a group formed to protect the interests of residents. Many live on parcels of 40 acres or more.

“We need to make sure residents are protected, roads maintained and this is done right,” Johnson said.

He said his main concern is “that the extreme level of truck traffic will essentially destroy our dirt roads.”

The project, if built in 2010 as proposed, is expected to be the first in Nevada and entirely on private easements.

Opponents can appeal the planning commission’s approval to Washoe County commissioners. The project also requires approval from regional planning boards.

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