The Attorney General's Counsel for the Environment (CFE) represents the public and its interest in protecting the environment on the proposed development of large, non-hydro energy facilities in Washington state. The projects at issue are under review by the state's Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC).
Under state law, the Attorney General appoints an Assistant Attorney General as Counsel for the Environment (CFE) when EFSEC has received a site application for review. CFE is independent of:
- Other state agencies and
- Parties involved in the site-application proposal.
Counsel for the Environment plays an important role in the overall project review. His or her responsibilities include soliciting public input, providing general information concerning the EFSEC process, helping citizens inform the EFSEC of their concerns, and participating in the review process.
CFE actively assesses the environmental impacts a project may have on the local community and the state's natural resources. When a project likely will result in significant environmental impacts, CFE advocates for measures that will avoid and/or mitigate those impacts. Environmental impacts often associated with the siting of a major energy facility include:
Projects currently under review include:
- Whistling Ridge Energy Project: On March 10, 2009 Whistling Ridge Energy LLC, submitted an Application for Site Certification to construct and operate the Whistling Ridge Energy Project. The Project will consist of up to fifty 1.2- to 2.5-megawatt wind turbines with a maximum generating capacity of 75 MW, to be located on the forested ridges of Saddleback Mountain in eastern Skamania County (location map). The Project includes an operation and maintenance facility, underground collector lines and systems, and other ancillary facilities. The proposed project will cover 1,152 acres.
On October 12, 2009 Whistling Ridge Energy LLC submitted an Amended Application for Site Certification. The primary change is the elimination of the site access through the Columbia Gorge Scenic Area, to a road at the site's western boundary.
- Satsop / Grays Harbor Energy: Grays Harbor Energy LLC (the Certificate Holder) is proposing to increase the Satsop Combustion Turbine (CT) Project's capacity by approximately 650 megawatts (MW) to a total of approximately 1,300 MW. As with the existing facility (Units 1 and 2), the addition would consist of two gas turbines and one steam turbine in a 2-on-1 configuration that would generate electricity to supply growing regional electrical demand. The new facilities are referred to as Units 3 and 4. (artist illustration).
Of note, the October 30, 2009 Amendment Request No. 5 is specifically asking EFSEC to: change the name of the project from the Satsop CT Project to the Grays Harbor Energy Center, allow the addition of two combustion turbine generators and one steam generator, allow 10 additional acres for construction laydown and access, approve a PSD permit for Units 3 and 4, and increase the total maximum water usage from 9.2 cfs to 16 cfs - no new water authorizations are requested.
The new project would take place on the original site in Elma of Grays Harbor County.