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Wind machines on Rattlesnake Ridge get thumbs up

YAKIMA - Wind towers could dot the Rattlesnake ridge near Sunnyside in the next few years.

A step in that direction was wrapped up yesterday when Yakima County Hearing Examiner Gary Cuillier gave a verbal OK for four wind-measuring towers to be erected north of Sunnyside. Cuillier will render formal, written approval within the next 10 days.

Known as anemometers, the machines will tell Northwest Wind Partners of Goldendale whether there's a future for wind power in the Rattlesnake hills.

"It's hard to get excited about what you don't know," Chad Ross of Northwest Wind Partners said prior to Thursday's hearing. He said the hope is that the one or two-year trial run with the anemometers will indicate enough wind activity to provide wind energy for local Pacific Power customers.

Cuillier's decision came after a public hearing to gain input on the proposal. "I'd like to see the project go through as quickly as possible," commented Carl Hurlburt of Granger.

Hurlburt corrected county planner Erica Mignone on one of the parcel numbers listed in a legal notice published on the hearing. After a brief review of records, Mignone confirmed for Cuillier that the wrong parcel number was used on one of the four applications, noting that it was a clerical error early in the planning process that carried over into later documentation.

Cuillier's approval of the project could be appealed to the Yakima County commissioners. He cautioned Ross and Mignone that continuing with the hearing may result in a total do-over if a challenge is made on the wrong parcel number.

"If that is a risk you like to take we can proceed," Cuillier told Ross. He replied, "We'd like to proceed."

Northwest Wind Partners is a joint venture established between Power Holdings, LLC, an entity of Goldendale-based Ross Management, and EnXco Development Corporation. Based in France, EnXco previously sought to establish a wind farm in Kittitas County.

According to the Ross Management website, Northwest Wind Partners' aim is to develop and build 200 megawatts of renewable wind power projects each year.

Northwest Wind Partners will put up $60,000 to erect the four wind measuring machines and lease land from property owners for the 197-foot high anemometers.

Acreage for three of the four wind measurement applications is on property owned by John Top, whose address is listed as Toppenish, and a fourth is on property owned by Joe Balmelli of Chehalis.

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