April 6, 2010 — Green power has taken a giant leap forward in Lassen County.
On Wednesday, Feb. 24, the Bureau of Land Management accepted as complete a Plan of Development for Invenergy’s proposed 51-megawatt Horse Lake Wind Farm project on Fredonyer Peak near Eagle Lake.
Jeff Fontana, a public information officer for BLM, said the agency’s acceptance of the development plan starts “the internal process” necessary for the agency to move the project forward, but he added the acceptance of the plan is not an approval of the project — it simply means the developer has met the requirements that need to be addressed before the project undergoes an extensive public environmental review process expected to begin in late summer or early fall. He said the public would have many opportunities to comment during this process.
“This is certainly a big step ending three years of hard work,” said Matt Giblin, Invenergy’s manager of development for the project. “The Plan of Development is an overall, overarching planning document that initiates a long process with much public involvement.”
While Invenergy originally proposed the construction of a 100-MW wind farm on both public and private lands, Giblin said the smaller, 51-MW project would be located only on public land.
Fontana said this is the first Plan of Development for a wind farm project accepted by BLM for Lassen County.
Once the BLM has completed its internal work on the project, it will file a Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement. That filing launches the public review process and sets a number of time frames in motion.
During this public scoping period, the agency hopes to identify any issues that should be addressed in the EIS. The agency will then prepare a draft EIS. After another review period, the agency will prepare a final EIS and release a Record of Decision for more review. Should the project continue to move forward, the agency will eventually sign the Record of Decision supporting the project or recommending another alternative. Fontana said the process always includes a “no action” alternative.
According to Fontana, the BLM also would have to amend the Eagle Lake Forest Office Resource Management Plan adopted in 2008 to accommodate the visual impacts of the project.
The site of the proposed Horse Lake Wind Farm has been classified as a Visual Resource Category 2 area — meaning its primitive visual status should be maintained.
Fontana said in order for the plan to move forward, BLM will have to amend the Eagle Lake Forest Office Resource Management Plan and issue a Record of Decision approving the project or an alternative.
He said the review process typically takes about 18 months to complete once BLM files the Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, and details of the proposed project would be released to the public once the public comment process begins.
Giblin said Invenergy planned to invest about $150 million in the project and called it, “the best opportunity for economic development and job growth in Lassen County.”
According to a September 2009 press release from Invenergy, “The project will bring substantial new private economic development to Lassen County with up to 150 jobs during the construction of the wind farm. The proposed project will generate substantial new property taxes over the life of the project that will directly benefit the Lassen County government … Wind farming represents an opportunity for Lassen County to gain millions of dollars in additional public revenues from a clean industry that uses a completely renewable resource. What wind energy really offers Lassen County is massive tax revenues, skilled jobs and a new high tech private sector industry, all the while making few demands on county services and occurring almost totally on federal land.”
Invenergy Wind Development is a privately held developer, owner and operator of large-scale electricity generation assets in North America and Europe. The company has active development in more than 20 states in the U.S. along with development programs in Canada and Europe. Invenergy primarily originates and develops its own wind projects from concept through completion and long-term operation.
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