Although it is taking some time, plans for a wind farm in the Dry Lake area are still in the works.
PPM Energy media representative Jan Johnson explained that the company is going through the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approval process in order to construct a 378 megawatt power generating station based on wind power.
The BLM has completed a project assessment, but is now seeking public comment. The deadline for the public to review and comment on the plan is Monday, April 14. As part of the assessment, the BLM completed an environmental assessment and a finding of no significant impact (FONSI). Through the process, the BLM issued a finding that “the impacts of the action are not significant and that an environmental impact statement is not needed.”
Wind turbines, access roads, collector lines, a substation and operations maintenance facilities were all part of the items considered by the BLM in making its finding.
Johnson explained that if the wind farm receives final approval, it will be constructed in several sepa-rate stages. The first stage will include up to 43 wind turbines and is expected to generate 64 megawatts. It will also include construction of roads, and operation and maintenance buildings.
Each subsequent stage would include additional wind turbines until a total of 378 megawatts can be generated. Johnson explained that the number of turbines could range anywhere from 105 to 209, depend-ing on the type and size chosen. She noted that the size of the towers supporting the turbines is generally a standard 80 meters, or about 262 feet, but the size of the blades on the turbines may vary.
The wind farm is proposed along Highway 377, about 20 miles southwest of Holbrook. The turbines and maintenance buildings will be the only visible elements of the project since transmission lines will be located underground. Johnson noted that existing cattle grazing operations in the area will be able to con-tinue after the wind farm is built.
The property on which the wind farm will be located is a combination of private, state and federally owned land. The U.S. Department of the Interior and BLM manage portions of the land, and PPM will be leasing the property.
Johnson could not estimate when construction might begin. She explained that it depends on how long it takes to complete the permitting process, but the company does hope to begin some construction in 2008.
The Arizona Corporation Commission has enacted a renewable energy standard that will require energy companies to produce at least 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025. Johnson noted that completion of the wind farm will help to meet that standard because the energy produced can be sold to Arizona-based utility companies.
Citizens wishing to comment on the BLM’s finding of no significant impact should write BLM Project Manager Roberta Lopez at 711 14th Ave., Safford, Ariz., 85546; or send an e-mail to Roberta_Lopez@blm.gov.
The environmental assessment and FONSI can be viewed online at www.blm.gov/az/sfo.
By Tammy Gray-Searles
10 March 2008
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