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Cotterel windfarm approved by BLM


South Idaho Press

An environmental review of the largest wind energy project on Federal land in the last 25 years has been completed and the Cotterel windfarm project has been approved, according to a press release issued Tuesday by the Bureau of Land Management.

Approval of the Record of Decision (ROD) and right-of-way grant for the project on 4,500 acres of BLM-managed public land was announced by Kathleen Clarke, BLM director. The approval clears the way for the installation of up to 98 turbines on the Cotterel ridge.

The announcement came following news in July that Idaho Power passed over Windland’s bid to sell wind-generated power. The utility instead awarded the contract to a Texas-based company building a plant in Oregon.

Losing the bid is expected to delay the Cotterel project at least a year, said Windland’s Marketing Manager Mike Heckler.

The 200 MW project would generate enough electricity to supply about 50,000 homes.

The project is expected to bring economic benefits to the area, the release said. Construction activity is projected to generate up to $12.5 million in local sales tax revenue and more than $500,000 annually once operations are fully underway. Cassia County will receive from property taxes on the project’s $197 million in property improvements.

The Cotterel right-of-way includes measures for mitigating the effects of wind generation on wildlife resources. Multiple strategies will be incorporated into the project to address impacts to sage-grouse, raptors, bats and migratory birds, the release said.

An interagency team of Federal and state biologists developed the mitigation plan and will continue to monitor wildlife impacts.

BLM-managed lands in nine Western States have the potential to generate an estimated 3,200 MW of wind energy n enough to provide electric power for nearly one million homes. Public lands administered by the Interior Department produce around 5 percent of the wind energy, one-half of the geothermal energy, and 17 percent of the hydropower generated in the United States.