Federal take permit program helps conserve eagles at CCSM Project site; final environmental analysis is complete
Dec. 8, 2016 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released its Final Environmental Impact Statement about Power Company of Wyoming LLC’s voluntary applications for standard and programmatic eagle take permits, both of which are based upon PCW’s comprehensive conservation plans and coordination with the Service.
The Service’s Final EIS analyzes avian conservation measures for Phase I (500 turbines) of PCW’s Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project in Carbon County, Wyoming. A Notice of Availability of the Final EIS will be in the Dec. 9 Federal Register. A Record of Decision will follow no sooner than 30 days afterward.
PCW developed two main conservation plans addressing eagles, bats and other migratory birds – the Phase I Eagle Conservation Plan and the Phase I Bird and Bat Conservation Strategy. Both plans are built on a foundation of over five years of scientific data-collection, over 5,000 hours of avian use surveys specific to the CCSM Project site, and ongoing coordination with the Service starting in 2010. The plans assure that eagle conservation is a priority both during wind project construction (standard permit application) and during operation (programmatic permit application), and they provide for mitigation and compensation in case of incidental eagle take.
PCW officials said that using site-specific environmental data to finalize the CCSM Project’s Phase I design was key to its work to meet the Service’s strict regulatory criteria. This wind project was carefully mapped out and repeatedly refined before any wind turbines are installed.
“PCW chose to commit to a significant scientific and engineering effort to proactively and responsibly minimize impacts to eagles and migratory birds. It was important to PCW to give our neighbors, regulators and customers further confidence that the CCSM Project will be built and operated in a manner consistent with wildlife conservation,” said Garry Miller, PCW vice president of land and environmental affairs.
The 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. The facility is designed to produce cost-effective bulk 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, providing substantial environmental benefits.
The Service’s environmental analysis documents, and PCW’s avian conservation plans, are available at http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/wind/ChokecherrySierraMadre/index.php.
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