BP Wind Energy North America’s 500-MW Mohave County Wind Farm in Arizona is ready to clear an important hurdle, with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management about to issue a final environmental impact statement on the project.
BLM said in a notice to be published in the May 17 Federal Register that the final EIS is ready. The BLM is responding to BP Wind Energy North America’s application for a right-of-way (ROW) to construct, operate, and maintain a wind-farm project.
Approval of a ROW grant for the wind farm would assist the BLM in meeting the objectives of the Energy Policy Act and Secretarial Order 3287A1, that establishes development of environmentally responsible renewable energy as a priority for the Department of the Interior.
BP Wind Energy North America applied for a ROW to construct, operate, maintain, and eventually decommission a 500-MW wind farm, including turbine generators and associated infrastructure, on approximately 38,099 acres of public lands and approximately 8,960 acres of land managed by the Bureau of Reclamation, totaling approximately 47,059 acres of federal land. The project area is located in the White Hills area 40 miles northwest of Kingman, Ariz., nine miles south of the Colorado River, and 20 miles southeast of Hoover Dam.
The project is proposed to consist of up to 283 turbines, access roads, and ancillary facilities. The turbine generators would be selected from those with a power output ranging from 1.5 to 3.0 MW each.
Proposed ancillary facilities include pad-mounted transformers, an underground 34.5-kV electrical collection system between the turbines, and distribution connector lines (either underground or above-ground) tying the turbine strings to either a 345-kV or a 500-kV electrical substation. This would provide interconnection with the regional power grid through the substation to a new switchyard at one of two major transmission lines transecting the project area. The lines, administered by the Western Area Power Administration, are the 345-kV Liberty-Mead line and the 500-kV Mead-Phoenix line.
BLM’s preferred alternative for this final EIS removed turbines in the northwest section of the project site due to identified golden eagle nests. These removals also addressed noise and visual concerns from the National Park Service, Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The preferred alternative also implements a minimum ¼-mile set back from private land and in some instances a larger distance due to visual and noise resource concerns. To further protect golden eagles, this alternative excludes turbines within a 1.25-mile area around golden eagle nests in the northwest portion of the proposed facility and provides an additional buffer that curtails turbine operation during nesting season and eagle activity, i.e., during daylight hours.
The preferred alternative allows for flexibility on the size and number of turbines (1.5 MW to 3.0 MW) to allow the developer to meet the targeted 425 MW or 500 MW nameplate capacity, BLM said. The generation size depends on the interconnection to either the 345-kV or 500-kV transmission line.