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China Mountain Wind Farm project

TWIN FALLS – A proposed wind farm south of Twin Falls has four of the five items to begin the project already in place.

The China Mountain Wind Farm will consist of up to 200 wind turbines producing up 400 megawatts of power, provided it can secure that list item on its list.

Two of the five needed items – a proven resource and financing to see the project through – are already secured. China Mountain Wind, LLC, also has a power purchase agreement in place for the first 200 megawatts of power that would be produced during the first phase. And it has a tie-in to a transmission line with a capacity to carry that 200 megawatts.

“The only thing we’re lacking is a right-of-way easement from the BLM (Bureau of Land Management,”’ Laura Lively told conservation district supervisors from Twin Falls County.

Lively, the community relations representative for the proposed project, has been visiting with resource management groups and cattle industry representatives to explain the project and its expected benefits.

One of the keys to getting that easement lies in the BLM’s revised Jarbidge Resource Management Plan. The 2,000-page document was released in September, but the comment period was extended until January 31, 2011. The plan guides use of public lands in the Jarbidge area along the Idaho-Nevada border. It has not been revised since 1987.

China Mountain Wind doesn’t believe the BLM analyzed commercial wind potential as thoroughly as it should have when revising the plan. BLM did not consider wind energy to be a key resource when it wrote the draft plan, Lively said. Excluding wind energy is a conflict with other sections of the plan that permit wind energy if the impacts are mitigated.

China Mountain Wind is committed to no net loss to species or to working landscapes because of the project. A $16 million mitigation fund will be created and the funds administered by a technical advisory committee. Enhancing winter range, restoring burned habitat, riparian area management and grazing management are examples of projects that could receive support from the mitigation fund.

Lively said the project will have a permanent footprint of 227 acres within a proposed project area of 30,600 acres of federal, state and private lands.

If a final environmental impact statement and record of decision on the draft resource management plan are completed by the fall of 2011 and BLM grants the easement, construction could begin in the late spring of 2012. Construction on the first phase is expected to take two years.

For more information on the RMP revision and update process, visit http://www.blm.gov/id/st/en/prog/planning/jarbidge_resource.html.