Environmental Law | Washington Supreme Court Gives Green Light to State Approval of Wind Farms Over Local Objections

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A unanimous Washington Supreme Court ruling on November 20 should give backers of largescale wind projects a major boost in their efforts to build wind farms in this state. In Residents Opposed to Kittitas Turbines v. Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (“ROKT”), the court

ruled that the Governor and the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (“EFSEC”) have the power to override local zoning ordinances that might hinder development of wind projects.

The ROKT case arose from the Kittitas Board of County Commissioners adopting a stringent

Wind Farm Resource Overlay Zoning ordinance that effectively blocked a proposed wind

project along Highway 97 between Cle Elum and Ellensburg. Although the developers

significantly scaled back their proposal from 121 wind turbine generators to 64, the county

rejected their application in part because of concerns about the visual impacts of even that many

300- to 400-foot towers on ridge tops in plain sight of residents and the traveling public. The

project developers then asked EFSEC to pre-empt the County process. EFSEC granted the

request and ultimately recommended that the Governor approve the development, which she did

after having EFSEC re-examine whether additional setbacks should be required.

...

For more information, please contact the Environmental Law Practice Group at Lane Powell:

206.223.7000 Seattle

503.778.2100 Portland

environs@lanepowell.com

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Lane Powell PC - Environmental Law Blog | Attorney Advertising

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