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Gov. Jay Inslee Revives Plans for Washington’s Largest Wind Farm

by Anna

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has revived the $1.7 billion Horse Heaven wind farm project by rejecting a recommendation to cut its proposal in half. This decision breathes new life into what could become the state’s largest wind farm.

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Originally, the plans for the Horse Heaven wind farm included up to 222 wind turbines spanning 24 miles of hillsides in the Tri-Cities area of eastern Washington, alongside three solar arrays covering up to 8.5 square miles. However, last month, Washington’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council recommended reducing the project by half due to the presence of nests of the endangered ferruginous hawk in the area.

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Inslee dismissed the council’s recommendation, urging the group to reconsider the project closer to its full potential. As a Democrat who is not seeking reelection after three terms, Inslee has made climate initiatives a central part of his legacy. He emphasized the state’s growing need for renewable energy, noting that Washington’s energy demands could nearly double by 2050.

The proposal for the wind farm, which dates back to 2021, has faced opposition from local residents but is seen as crucial to meeting the state’s renewable energy goals. Inslee addressed concerns about the visual impact of the turbines, stating, “It is clear that the turbines will be visible only from a distance and none of the turbines will loom over anyone’s home.”

Additionally, Inslee asked the council to improve access for the Yakama Nation to lands of cultural and historical significance while still aiming to restore most of the planned wind farm. Tribal communities along the West Coast have expressed frustration over insufficient consultation on projects affecting culturally significant lands and waters.

The council has been deliberating over the Horse Heaven wind farm for more than three years. Now, they have three months to consider the governor’s notes and revise their original recommendation.

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