The U.S. Department of Energy on Aug. 9, on behalf of its Western Area Power Administration, issued a draft environmental assessment (EA) that analyzes the potential environmental impacts of the proposed Willow Creek Wind Energy Facility in Butte County, South Dakota.
The EA reviews the potential environmental impacts of constructing, operating, and maintaining a 103-MW (nameplate) capacity wind facility consisting of approximately 45 wind turbines, associated access roads, a new collector substation, an operations and maintenance facility, temporary staging areas, and associated transmission interconnection facilities. Western’s proposed action is to interconnect the facility with Western’s transmission system.
Wind Quarry Operations LLC proposes to construct the Willow Creek Wind Energy Facility. The project area consists of 22,324 acres of privately owned land approximately 10 miles northeast of Newell, South Dakota. Wind Quarry proposes to interconnect the project to the Western Area Power Administration’s (Western) Maurine to Rapid City 115-kV transmission line, which passes through the project area. Interconnection would be at a new switchyard to be constructed by Western and located within the project area.
Western’s Proposed Action under this draft EA is to execute an interconnection agreement to connect Wind Quarry’s proposed project to its system. Western would construct, own, and operate a new interconnection switchyard adjacent to the transmission line. This new switchyard would be enclosed by an approximately 150-foot by 200-foot fence and would include 115-kV gas-insulated circuit breakers, associated switches, bus work, and a control building. It would not include a transformer.
The project would also include underground electric collector lines, a central collector substation (Willow Creek Substation), an approximately 100-foot-long 115-kV jumper interconnecting to the new Western-owned switchyard, an O&M facility, access roads connecting to each turbine, one to two permanent meteorological towers, a sonic detection and ranging (SODAR) unit, and a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system.
The expected life of the project is 25 to 40 years (leases for the project are 25 years, with an option to upgrade turbines and extend leases for an additional 15 years). Each turbine would have a hub height of approximately 262 feet and a turbine rotor diameter of 354 feet. The total height of each turbine would be approximately 440 feet with a blade in the vertical position. As turbine technology advances, manufacturers discontinue turbine models and release new ones. Other factors, such as cost and availability at the time of ordering, may dictate final selection of a turbine manufacturer and model. It is anticipated that the specifications for alternate models would be similar to the proposed turbine model and that the turbine layout would not be significantly affected should an alternate model be selected.
Project contact information is: Wind Quarry Operations LLC, Patrick O’Meara, CEO, Phone 970-417-0878.