BLM doing final review of 318-MW Alta East Wind Project in Calif.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management said in a notice to be published in the Feb. 19 Federal Register that it is taking comment on an environmental review change and final EIS for the 318-MW Alta East Wind Project in California.

BLM has prepared a Proposed California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA) Plan Amendment/Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Alta East Wind Project and is now seeking comment on that document.

Alta Windpower Development LLC (AWD) has requested a right-of-way (ROW) authorization to construct, operate, maintain and eventually decommission the proposed 318-MW project. The project would be located on the north and south sides of State Route 58 in southeastern Kern County, Calif. The project area is three miles northwest of the town of Mojave and 11 miles east of the city of Tehachapi.

The project would include wind turbines, access roads, energy collection lines, and other ancillary facilities on 2,592 acres, of which 2,024 acres are on public land under the jurisdiction of the BLM and 568 acres are on private land under the jurisdiction of Kern County.

The project, if approved, would require approximately 418 acres of the private land portion of the project site to be re-zoned to be consistent with the Kern County Zoning Ordinance Wind Energy Combining District. The BLM will decide whether to grant, grant with modification, or deny a ROW on public lands to AWD for the proposed project.

The BLM is proposing to amend the CDCA Plan by designating the project area as either available or unavailable for wind-energy projects. The CDCA Plan (from 1980, as amended), while recognizing the potential compatibility of wind-energy generation facilities with other uses on public lands, requires that all sites proposed for power generation or transmission not already identified in the plan be considered through the plan amendment process. In order for the BLM to grant a ROW for this project, the CDCA Plan needs amending.

In addition to the proposed action (106 turbines) and a no action alternative, the BLM is analyzing an alternative layout configuration and two reduced footprint (97 and 87 turbines) alternatives. The proposed plan amendment/final EIS also analyzes two “no project” alternatives that reject the project but amend the CDCA Plan to find the project area either:

  • Suitable for future wind energy generation projects; or
  • Unsuitable for future wind energy generation projects.

The BLM has selected Alternative C (97 turbines) as the preferred alternative in the proposed plan amendment/final EIS.

A Notice of Availability of the draft proposed plan amendment, EIS and environmental impact report (EIR) for the project was published on June 29, 2012, followed by a BLM/Kern County joint public meeting on Aug. 1, 2012 in Mojave, Calif. The county completed its California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review process and has already certified its EIR for the project.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.