BLM releases enviro review for Phase I of 3,000-MW Wyoming wind project

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is taking comment until April 22, under an extended public comment period, on the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre (CCSM) Phase I Wind Turbine Development Environmental Assessment (EA) and Draft Finding of No New Significant Impacts (FONNSI).

BLM released the EA and FONNSI on March 9, marking a key milestone for the largest proposed wind energy facility in North America, a project with the capacity to open up to 1,000 jobs at peak construction and generate up to 3,000 MW. Phase I represents half of the project total, or about 1,500 MW.

The EA examines the potential, site-specific impacts of constructing 500 wind turbines on mixed ownership land in the first phase of the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project in southern Wyoming. The two-phase development proposes to build 1,000 wind turbines on 219,707 acres south of Rawlins in Carbon County. BLM administers approximately half of the land, with the remainder of the site consisting of private and state lands.

The BLM’s review of Power Company of Wyoming LLC‘s (PCW) 2,000–3,000 MW wind energy project began in 2008. In August 2012, President Barack Obama identified the project as a Nationally or Regionally Significant Project for Renewable Energy.

In January 2008, PCW applied to the BLM for right-of-way (ROW) grants to construct, operate, maintain, and decommission the CCSM Project on the Overland Trail Ranch in Carbon County. More than half of the ranch consists of privately-owned land, which is intermingled with federal land administered by the BLM. As lead federal agency, the BLM commenced preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS), in coordination with other federal, state, and local governmental agencies. The Draft EIS was released for public comment in 2011. The CCSM Project ROD was signed by the BLM’s Acting Director and approved by the Secretary of the Interior in 2012.

The project consists of:

  • A 2,000 to 3,000 MW wind farm consisting of approximately 1,000 wind turbine generators each with a nameplate capacity ranging from 1.5 to 3 MW;
  • Development of step-up transformers, underground and overhead electric collection and communication lines, electric substations, rail distribution facility, operations and maintenance facilities, and laydown areas;
  • Haul road and transmission connection between the Chokecherry Wind Development Area and the Sierra Madre Wind Development Area;
  • Construction of new roads and the upgrade of existing roads; and
  • Power from the wind farm to be transmitted via overhead electric transmission lines that would connect to a new substation.

The wind turbine generators are to be constructed in two phases. Phase I Wind Turbine Development will consist of 500 turbines and Phase II will consist of 500 turbines. The BLM will comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and the CCSM Project ROD by analyzing the Phase II Wind Turbine Development in a separate EA to be issued later.

If Phase I is approved, PCW plans to install 229 wind turbine generators in 2019 and 271 wind turbine generators in 2020.

PCW’s website is at www.powercompanyofwyoming.com.

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.