Las Vegas Sun

November 26, 2014

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Searchlight wind project headed for regulatory approval

A large wind energy project near Searchlight that would cost an estimated $500 million is headed for approval by the state Public Utilities Commission on Wednesday.

Commissioner David Noble, who conducted a public hearing June 20 on the application from Duke Energy, has written a draft order that recommends approval with conditions.

Noble says the project cannot begin until Duke Energy obtains 24 permits from government agencies, 11 of them from Clark County. And a deadline is set for two years.

Duke Energy, the parent of Searchlight Wind, plans to build 87 wind turbines and associated facilities that would cover 152 to 160 acres. The project would produce up to 200 megawatts, Duke says.

The company has not found a buyer for the wind energy but has been negotiating with NV Energy and electric companies in California. A spokesman for the company said the project would not be built until it obtains contracts for the power.

The draft order, which is expected to be approved by the three-member commission, says the environmental report by the Bureau of Land Management found there would be some temporary impacts during construction on the 427-foot windmills. But, the federal agency said, that would end when the work is done.

An adjacent homeowner, Judy Bundorf, said the PUC should not issue a permit until Duke Energy has a firm contract to sell the power.

She said there would be excessive noise, shadow flicker and flashing red warning lights. And there will be 27 miles of roads that will raise a significant amount of dust during construction.

Duke said water trucks would be used to control the dust.

The company said the project would create 250 to 300 construction jobs and 15 permanent positions.

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