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After four years, Spring Valley Wind project nears EA review…

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on January 11, 2010


From WindAction.org:

After four years, Spring Valley Wind project nears EA review

November 04, 2009 by Rudy Herndon in The Ely Times

It might seem like federal regulators are fast-tracking the development of Nevada’s first commercial wind farm. But the 160-megawatt Spring Valley Wind project has actually been in the works for over four years, as the developer gathered additional information sought by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). A private contractor is currently putting the finishing touches on the draft Environmental Assessment for the 66-turbine project, which would be located on BLM-administered lands between State Route 893 and U.S. Highway 50 as it veers north toward Sacramento Pass.
 
It might seem like federal regulators are fast-tracking the development of Nevada’s first commercial wind farm.
But the 160-megawatt Spring Valley Wind project has actually been in the works for over four years, as the developer gathered additional information sought by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

A private contractor is currently putting the finishing touches on the draft Environmental Assessment for the 66-turbine project, which would be located on BLM-administered lands between State Route 893 and U.S. Highway 50 as it veers north toward Sacramento Pass.

Once the BLM has had a chance to review the document, the agency plans to release it to the public within the next month or so, according to Wells McGiffert, the Ely BLM’s renewable energy projects manager.

As it gears up for the public comment period, the agency will be posting general information about the project, as well as the proposed plan of development, on its Web site. Digital and hard copies of the draft Environmental Assessment will be available for public review, and the BLM plans to hold at least one public meeting in Ely, McGiffert said.

At that time, the agency will begin to address any questions and concerns that members of the public might have, according to Chris Hanefeld, the Ely BLM’s public information officer.

“Right now, we want to get a lot of generic information out to the public,” Hanefeld told the Ely Times Oct. 30. “We will be building off of that as we go through this process.”

Any public comments the BLM receives will help the agency determine if it should move forward with the Environmental Assessment, or instead proceed with a more detailed Environmental Impact Statement, McGiffert said.

If the agency signs off on the final version of the Environmental Assessment, members of the public would have 30 days to appeal its decision.

Barring a successful appeal, developer Pattern Energy would be free to seek construction and special use permits from the county, launching the busiest phase of the project.

Construction activity is tentatively scheduled to begin in late summer or early fall of next year, and contractor Mortenson Construction could finish work on the project by the second quarter of 2011, McGiffert said.

The biggest impacts would be felt during that initial construction period, when the contractor would bring roughly 150 to 200 workers to the area.

In the short-term, the project would take in just under 10 percent of the proposed 8,600-acre lease.

But once construction activity has ended and the 425-foot tall turbines are up and running, the project’s overall footprint would shrink to about 1 to 3 percent of that total area.

Most of the proposed water use is also expected to occur over the short term — mainly for dust control and to feed a portable concrete batch plant, McGiffert said.

Even before the project gets off the ground, at least one major hurdle is already out of the way.

The proposed site is located alongside existing transmission lines, and the current plan of development would bolster that infrastructure: It calls for the addition of a new electrical substation.

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