Posted by: Patricia Salkin | December 1, 2008

State Energy Siting Law Applies to Wind Turbines and Preempts Local Zoning in Washington State

The Washington State Energy Facilities Site Locations Act governs the relocation, construction, and operating conditions of energy facilities in Washington.  The law creates a process for determining energy facility locations across the state and requires site certification, a binding agreement between the applicant and the State, and conditions of approval that will assure the applicant’s compliance with regulations related to the construction and operation of the facility. The Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council is a multiagency body which administers the site certification process.  The county where a proposed facility might be located appoints a representative to the Council for consideration of the application.  The Council then holds a hearing on the proposed facility to determine whether it is consistent with the county land use plans and zoning laws.

 

Horizon Wind Energy proposed 121 wind turbine towers in Kittitas County.  The County had adopted a Wind Farm Resource Overlay Zone ordinance.  At the hearing the Council and the County agreed the application was inconsistent with the County ordinance.  Although there was a lot of procedural wrangling and going back and forth, the bottom line is that the Court held that the Energy Facilities Site Locations Act does not violate the state’s Growth Management Act in preempting the County’s land use and zoning laws.  There was substantial evidence to support the preemption, adequate mitigation of visual impacts and no violation of the appearance of fairness doctrine.

 

Residents Opposed to Kittitas Turbines v. State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, 2008 WL 4939317 (Wash. 11/20/2008).

 

The opinion is available at:  http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/index.cfm?fa=opinions.showOpinion&filename=813329MAJ

 

Thanks to Dwight Merriam, Esq. Of Robinson & Cole in Hartford, CT. For posting this summary through weekly Land Use Law posting on the

IMLA Local Government Law Blog


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