The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a notice to be published in the Jan. 17 Federal Register that the final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) is being released for the various phases of the Fowler Ridge Wind Farm.
The FEIS is associated with an application received from Fowler Ridge Wind Farm LLC, Fowler Ridge II Wind Farm LLC, Fowler Ridge III Wind Farm LLC, and Fowler Ridge IV Wind Farm LLC for an incidental take permit under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. The service is also announcing the availability of the final Fowler Ridge Wind Farm (FRWF) Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), prepared in accordance with the ESA, and the availability of a final Programmatic Agreement (PA) to address the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and its implementing regulations. Fowler Ridge submitted the HCP, as well as a proposed Implementing Agreement (IA), as part of its incidental take permit application.
If issued, the permit would authorize incidental take of the federally endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) from operation of Phases I–IV of the project. Fowler Ridge is requesting a 21-year permit term.
The project consists of a wind facility located in an approximately 72,947-acre area (the project area including a one-half-mile buffer around the outside turbines) in Benton County, Ind.
The Fowler Ridge application is unusual in that 355 wind turbines are already in place and have been operational since 2009. At the time of their construction, no Indiana bats had been documented to have been killed by a commercial wind facility. The turbines were constructed in three phases with a total energy capacity of 600 MW.
- The 301.3-MW Fowler Phase I was constructed in 2008 and consists of 40 Clipper Liberty wind turbine generators (WTG) with a capacity of 2.5 MW per turbine and 122 Vestas V82 WTGs with a capacity of 1.65 MW per turbine.
- The 199.5-MW Fowler Phase II was constructed in 2009 and began operating later that year. The site consists of 133 GE WTGs, each with a 1.5-MW capacity.
- The 99-MW Fowler Phase III was constructed in 2008 and began operating in 2009. The site consists of 60 Vestas V82 WTGs, each with a 1.65-MW capacity per turbine.
The now-planned Phase IV will consist of up to 94 GE 1.6-MW turbines for a total capacity of 150.4 MW. Phase IV is planned for construction in 2014. The need for the Service review of this project is based on finding two dead Indiana bats at the existing facility in 2009 and 2010, and the potential that future operation could result in additional take of this endangered species.
Notable is that within the past month, Fowler Ridge IV Wind Farm LLC has applied at both the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission for approval of a transaction in which BP Wind Energy North America will sell all of its ownership interests in Fowler Ridge IV to Pattern Renewables LP or a wholly owned subsidiary of Pattern Renewables.