The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Oct. 28 Federal Register will announce the availability of a draft Environmental Assessment (DEA) under the National Environmental Policy Act for the issuance of a take permit for golden eagles pursuant to the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Act), in association with the operation of the Alta East Wind Project in Kern County, California.
The DEA was prepared in response to an application from Alta Wind X LLC, an affiliate of NRG Yield Inc., for a 5-year programmatic take permit for golden eagles under the Eagle Act. The applicant would implement a conservation program to avoid, minimize, and compensate for the project’s impacts to eagles. Comments on the DEA will be taken for 60 days from publication of the notice.
The Alta East Wind Project is an existing, operational facility of 150 MW in size in the Tehachapi Wind Resource Area within Kern County. The application includes an Eagle Conservation Plan (ECP) as the foundation of the permit application. The ECP and the project’s Bird and Bat Conservation Strategy describe actions taken and proposed future actions to avoid, minimize, and mitigate adverse effects on eagles, birds, and bats.
The recently constructed (December 2013) Alta East Wind Project was a new wind energy project on public (Bureau of Land Management) and private lands and was an expansion of Terra-Gen’s Alta Wind Energy Center. The Bureau of Land Management and Kern County permitted Alta Wind X LLC to construct, operate, maintain, and decommission up to 51 wind turbine generators and related infrastructure on approximately 2,600 acres of public and private land in 2013.
The applicant submitted an ECP in March 2013, that was initially developed following recommendations provided by the service and consistent with a January 2011 Draft Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance. The Draft ECP was later updated to follow the finalized guidance.