In January, the Bureau of Land Management issued a Finding of No New Significant Impacts and a Decision Record after completing the second of two site-specific Environmental Assessments covering Phase I of the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre (CCSM) Wind Energy Project.
The second Environmental Assessment (EA2) analyzed the placement of 500 wind turbines, a road network and associated facilities included in Phase I Wind Turbine Development. The BLM determined that Power Company of Wyoming LLC’s site-specific plan of development for these components is approved and that the Phase I Wind Turbine Development “would have no significant effects beyond those already analyzed and disclosed” in the BLM’s 2012 Final Environmental Impact Statement. The EIS resulted from more than four years of environmental data-gathering, analysis, public input and collaboration among federal, state and local cooperating agencies. The site-specific EA2 is tiered to the project-wide EIS.
BLM opened public scoping for the Phase I Wind Turbine Development EA on Dec. 6, 2013, and two public scoping meetings were held Dec. 16 and 17, 2013. The draft EA document was published on March 9, 2016, and two public meetings were held March 28 and 29, 2016. The final Finding of No New Significant Impacts was signed Jan. 17, 2017, by Rawlins Field Office Manager Dennis Carpenter. The Decision Record was signed Jan. 17, 2017, by Janice M. Schneider, Assistant Secretary, Land and Minerals Management, U.S. Department of the Interior.
The full CCSM Project is a 1,000-turbine wind energy project to be built in two phases on a working cattle ranch consisting of checkerboard private land, federal land and state land in Carbon County, Wyoming. It is designed to produce cost-effective supplies of renewable electricity that can help Western states meet their Renewable Portfolio Standards, such as California’s RPS of 50 percent renewable energy in use by 2030. The 1,500 MW of renewable energy from Phase I of the CCSM Project will reduce America’s carbon emissions by millions of tons per year.
In January 2008, PCW applied to BLM for wind energy development rights-of-way on the federal land. After completing a project-wide EIS, the BLM approved the CCSM Project site for wind energy development in a Record of Decision signed Oct. 9, 2012, by then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.
The first Environmental Assessment (EA1), also tiered to the project-wide EIS, was completed and approved in December 2014. EA1 analyzed the site-specific plans of development for the Phase I Haul Road and Facilities, West Sinclair Rail Facility and Road Rock Quarry. BLM issued a right-of-way grant and limited notice to proceed for the infrastructure components on Aug. 25, 2016.