E-mail Alert
PCW’s detailed Eagle Conservation Plan
supports application for eagle permit
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues notice to prepare an EIS

Dec. 4, 2013 – Continuing the advancement of the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project through the federal permitting process, Power Company of Wyoming LLC is submitting a comprehensive Eagle Conservation Plan along with an application for a programmatic eagle permit to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for environmental review and approval.

PCW’s Eagle Conservation Plan is built on a foundation of years of scientific data-gathering and wildlife monitoring specific to the CCSM Project site, and is designed in alignment with the Service’s ECP Guidance and Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines. The eagle permit application will be analyzed in an Environmental Impact Statement by the Service, according to a Notice of Intent published in today’s Federal Register. The permit covers PCW’s first phase of wind turbine development.

Under the Service’s 2009 Eagle Permit Rule that applies to a variety of activities, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may “authorize the limited take of bald eagles and golden eagles under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, where the take to be authorized is associated with otherwise lawful activities,” such as generating clean, cost-effective wind energy supplies. The Service approves permits only when rigorous conditions and requirements are met, including developing a detailed evaluation of the risk to eagles, implementing all practical measures to reduce that risk, and providing mitigation and compensation in the event of a take — all elements that will be outlined and proposed within PCW’s comprehensive conservation plan.

To assist in its preparation of the EIS, the Service is conducting a 60-day public scoping period, in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. In addition to accepting comments via mail and email regarding the scope of the EIS, the Service will hold two public scoping meetings in Carbon County, Wyo., on Dec. 16 in Rawlins and Dec. 17 in Saratoga.

“PCW has deployed an avian radar system along with teams of biologists to map where and when birds might use the landscape in the project area, helping us learn where to place or not place turbines to help avoid and minimize risks. We’ve worked with top wildlife scientists to design advanced conservation measures so we can further reduce potential risks. We’re proposing to place over 26,000 acres of the best habitat — including areas with the nation’s very best wind resources — into a conservation easement where wind development will be precluded,” said Garry Miller, PCW vice president of land and environmental affairs. “As a responsible energy developer, PCW is demonstrating its commitment to the preservation of eagles by implementing all practical measures to avoid and minimize potential eagle takes.”

In addition to the Eagle Conservation Plan, PCW is submitting an avian protection plan containing measures proposed to avoid or minimize potential impacts on other migratory birds. PCW has been developing both plans based on ongoing discussions with the Service since 2010.

The entire CCSM Project of up to 1,000 wind turbines already has been analyzed by federal officials in a Final Environmental Impact Statement published by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management on June 29, 2012. The CCSM Project site was authorized in a Record of Decision signed Oct. 9, 2012, by then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

The CCSM Project wind turbines are being developed in two phases. The EIS being prepared by the Service applies solely to the Eagle Conservation Plan and eagle permit for PCW’s Phase I Wind Turbine Development of 500 turbines. The BLM is reviewing the Plan of Development in a separate Site-Specific Environmental Assessment that is tiered to the project-wide BLM EIS. According to the NOI, the Service intends to incorporate by reference information from the BLM EIS into its analysis.

When PCW determines it will proceed with Phase II wind development, PCW will submit a Phase II Plan of Development to BLM for environmental review and a Phase II Eagle Conservation Plan and permit application to the Service for environmental review. This high standard of detailed and coordinated federal environmental review is described in the 2012 BLM Record of Decision, which noted that the BLM will not issue PCW a notice to proceed to construction without the Service’s concurrence on Eagle Conservation Plans.

For more information about the EIS being prepared by the Service, including how to submit comments, visit http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/wind/ChokecherrySierraMadre/index.html. Public scoping comments must be received by Feb. 3, 2014.

For more information about the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project, including its selection as a “nationally and regionally significant” renewable energy project, visit www.powercompanyofwyoming.com.

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