The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office in Wyoming has opened scoping for an infrastructure component environmental assessment for the Chokecherry/Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project (CCSM).
The scoping process will include two public meetings: on Sept. 23 at the Platte Valley Community Center in Saratoga, Wyo.; and on Sept. 24 at the Depot in Rawlins, Wyo. The scoping meetings will provide an opportunity for the public and interested parties to ask questions one-on-one with BLM specialists, view maps and posters detailing the site-specific phases of the CCSM project, and provide written comments.
The CCSM Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision issued in 2012 amended the Rawlins Resource Management Plan to allow for wind development, but did not identify individual turbine locations, BLM noted. Subsequent tiered environmental assessments (EAs) are needed to analyze site-specific issues, such as the number and layout of the wind turbines to address migratory bird and eagle avoidance and minimization.
The first to be analyzed will be an infrastructure component EA which includes the Haul Road, West Sinclair rail facility and road rock quarry. Future EAs include analyses of phase 1-development of approximately 500 turbines in the western portion of the project area and phase 2-development of the remaining roughly 500 turbines in the eastern portion of the project area.
The proposed CCSM project consists of two wind farm sites encompassing 1,000 turbines on more than 227,638 acres of mixed public and private land located about 10 miles south of Rawlins, Wyo., in Carbon County. It is estimated that each wind turbine would generate 1.5 MW to 3 MW, with a total capacity of 2,000 to 3,000 MW. Access roads, underground electric gathering lines, an overhead transmission line and substations to interconnect the generated power to the electric grid are included in the proposal. It is anticipated construction will take four to five years with an estimated project life of 30 years.
The company proposing these projects is Power Company of Wyoming LLC, a wholly owned affiliate of The Anschutz Corp.
Anschutz Exploration, an oil and gas exploration affiliate of Anschutz Corp., said about this project in a brochure on its website: “Another key natural-resources affiliate, Power Company of Wyoming LLC is developing the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project, an up to 1,000-turbine wind farm to be located south of Rawlins and Sinclair in Carbon County, Wyoming. The proposed project will use less than 2,000 acres of a 320,000-acre ranch managed by affiliate The Overland Trail Cattle Company LLC. The project is located in one of the best regions in the United States for wind energy production, and it spans a combination of privately owned land interspersed with federal land. With the potential to generate approximately 2,500 megawatts of clean energy, the project could provide enough renewable power to serve approximately 1 million households. The project will provide hundreds of good jobs, millions of dollars in tax revenue and other economic benefits for Carbon County and Wyoming.”
The brochure said that privately-held Anschutz Corp. is in a range of businesses, including: control of the historic Broadmoor hotel in Colorado; movie production and also exhibition through the Regal movie chain; and control of TransWest Express LLC, which is developing a high-voltage electric transmission system to provide California, Nevada and Arizona with the ability to access Wyoming’s high-capacity, cost-effective renewable energy resources.