Fish and Wildlife Service to write EIS on Wyoming wind project

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to write an environmental impact statement related to a permit application by the Power Company of Wyoming for an eagle take permit for Phase I of the Chokecherry-Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project (CCSM Project) in Carbon County, Wyo.

The draft EIS will analyze the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of Phase I of the project to support a Service decision to approve or deny an eagle take permit (ETP).

As proposed by the Power Company of Wyoming (PCW), the project will consist of two phases. When both phases are completed, the CCSM Project will consist of up to 1,000 wind turbines capable of generating a total of 2,000 MW to 3,000 MW, the Service said in a notice to be published in the Dec. 4 Federal Register.

Phase I of the CCSM Project, to which this notice primarily pertains, would consist of about 500 wind turbines, a haul road, a quarry to supply materials for road construction, access roads, a rail distribution facility, underground and overhead electrical and communication lines, laydown areas, operation and maintenance facilities, and other supporting infrastructure needed for Phase I to become fully operational.

For Phase I, PCW is preparing a detailed eagle conservation plan (ECP) that it intends to submit to the Service to support its application for an ETP. The ECP will identify measures that PCW proposes to undertake to avoid, minimize and compensate for potential impacts to bald and golden eagles.

PCW has indicated it will submit a separate plan of development for CCSM Phase II, which will consist of about 500 additional wind turbines (roughly 1,500 MW), at a later date. At this time PCW has not determined when development of Phase II of the CCSM project would occur. The Service said it intends to address impacts of CCSM Phase II (classified as a reasonably foreseeable future action) as cumulative impacts in the draft EIS for Phase I, and will conduct further review of Phase II if and when a take permit application for Phase II is submitted.

In July 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published its final EIS for the project. The BLM FEIS included an evaluation of the impacts of issuing the requested rights-of-way (ROW) grants on golden eagles and other raptors and migratory birds based on available data and concluded that the estimated number of raptor fatalities, as well as the impacts of reduced use by passerine birds within the project area, would exceed significance criteria.

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.