Storey County windmill project’s chances are blowing in the wind | NevadaAppeal.com

Storey County windmill project’s chances are blowing in the wind

Dave Frank
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer

Storey County could ban a 69-windmill project not only near tourist towns but almost anywhere in the county.

The county planning commission looked at the ordinance Thursday night that could affect a windmill project planned for the mountains north of Carson City and west of Virginia City.

The draft ordinance bans commercial windmills visible from the 19th century mining towns of Virginia City and Gold Hill. Projects also must promote “undistributed viewsheds,” protect “the integrity of natural landscapes” and allow an “economically sustainable climate for tourism.”

The ordinance may need to protect almost all the county from the sight of commercial windmills under the ordinance besides just historic towns, said Community

Development Director Dean Haymore.

Defining Virginia City and Gold Hill as the only historic areas could be too restrictive for the county’s rich heritage, he said.

Reno-based Great Basin Wind is planning the $200 to $400 million New Comstock

Wind Energy Project with more than 300-foot-tall windmills that could generate energy for thousands of homes.

The company is going through what could be a two-year application process with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management that will determine more details about the project.

The bureau will go to the planning commissions of Storey County on Feb. 19 and Carson City on Feb. 25 to present its environmental report on the project.

Storey County Planner Austin Osborne said the point of the meeting Thursday was not to talk about the Great Basin Wind project. The county saw a while ago that renewable energy was becoming more popular and wanted to start to plan for the future, he said.

The county supports renewable energy, just in the right place, Haymore said.

“We want an ordinance that works,” he said. “We want an ordinance that is fair.”

The county couldn’t stop windmills altogether even if it wanted to because of a green-friendly state law, he said.

A rule proposed at the meeting that would require windmills more than 65 feet tall to get special approval would make it more difficult for a commercial wind farm to be built.

– Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.