Wind debate returns to farm

From wind turbines to wholesaling the Greenbank label, Greenbank Farm board of directors grappled with the direction of the farm at a March 20 board meeting.

Several recent proposals challenged the farm's mission of creating and sustaining cultural, recreational, educational and economic opportunities on Whidbey Island.

The proposal to put up a wind data gathering anemometer at Greenbank Farm was back on the table. The data gathered would help determine whether there is enough wind to create energy from a permanent wind turbine.

Last spring the board was approached by Northwest Sustainable Energy for Economic Development about the possibility of siting a demonstration wind turbine on the mid-island farm.

Board members agreed at the time that the project generated more controversy than promise and shelved the idea.

Although the actual site of any future wind turbine has not been determined, some people expressed concern about the visual impact if it was situated on the highest point on the farm.

"A lot of people are almost spiritual about that ridge," Marcia Comer, board president, said.

Kelly Kielwitz, owner of Whidbey Wind and Sun, revived the wind turbine idea at the March 20 meeting, saying the sustainable energy possibility was compatible with the mission of the farm.

While the board can wait until the results of the data gathering come back before deciding to go with the wind turbine or not, Blankenship felt it would be wise to make a board decision prior to testing. They will reconsider the issue at the April meeting.

Ultimately, the decision is up to the Port, which owns the land.

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