Radio Report: Protection for wildfire-prone areas to be considered in siting new wind turbines under Barnard bill


New bipartisan legislation would require a comprehensive evaluation of the impacts on wildland firefighting before permitting new wind turbines. Nic Scott reports.

 Radio Report Transcript

SCOTT: Republican Representative Stephanie Barnard of Pasco is concerned about tall wind turbines getting in the way of aerial firefighting efforts. She says it was a close call during a wildfire that burned on the edge of a hillside neighborhood in the summer of 2023.

BARNARD: “A DC-10 came in, dropped the retardant, and that is what saved those homes. What would happen if there were 700-foot turbines up on top of those hills? And really that’s the problem.”

SCOTT: Barnard says indirect impacts of a new wind or solar farm on efforts to fight wildfires have not always been studied.

BARNARD: “How are we going to get aerial firefighters into the areas where they need to drop the suppressant if there’s a no-fly zone due to those obstacles. We’ve got to have that mapped out – that planned out, so that lives and property and livestock can all be protected.”

SCOTT: Under Barnard’s bill, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would have to determine if a turbine facility would impact the ability to fight wildfires with helicopters and airplanes.

House Bill 2117 passed the House Environment and Energy Committee on Tuesday.

Nic Scott, the state Capital.

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