Wilson Creek Power Partners is backing away from their seemingly single-minded determination to place wind power electricity generating towers in the Mt. Wilson region, northeast of Pioche.
At a special meeting of County Commissioners Sept. 28, an email from Gloria Tibbetts, Planning and Environmental Coordinator with the BLM in Ely, was read. According to the email, the Reno-based Wilson Creek Power Partners, and Champlin Group, the main financial backers for the project, are now willing to look for alternative sites for consideration on which to locate their planned wind generation project in Lincoln County.
Commissioners have said since the project was first announced in 2004 there are other sites in the County, instead of Mt. Wilson, that would be just as good for wind power generation, if the company would only work with the County to locate and identify the sites.
At the same time, Wilson Creek Wind has asked BLM to put on hold the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) studies being done for the Mt. Wilson right-of-way, while they look for alternative sites.
If sites are found, then Wilson Creek Wind would invited Lincoln County to be a cooperating agency in moving the Nevada Environmental Agency process forward, if or when the applicant identifies these alternatives.
In the meantime, The email stated Wilson Creek Wind still wishes to have the BLM “to maintain a current right-of-way application for the project, but the EIS process will be completely put on hold for the next six to eight months while the applicant reviews potential alternative sites based on the response during public scoping.”
And Wilson Creek Wind Partners have also filed an application with the Public Utilities Commission to construct a wind powered electric generating facility, which some at the special meeting thought might simply be an attempt to go around Lincoln County to have wind generation still be placed on Mt. Wilson.
Commission Chairman Tommy Rowe said, “I think the email from the BLM was a victory in round one. This is the first thing the company who wants to put the wind generation in has shown cooperation on, and I applaud them for their efforts in working with us.”
Since 2004, Wilson Creek Wind Project has not exhibited much of a willingness to work with Lincoln County on identifying alternative sites, but after weighing all of the opposition voiced in both oral and public comments, now appears to be willing to consider other areas.
Wilson Creek Power Partners, LLC, has been proposing to construct, operate and maintain a wind energy generation project on approximately 31,000 acres of the public lands in the Wilson Creek Range that includes Mt. Wilson, Table Mountain, White Rock Mountain and Atlanta Summit. The proposed project could consist of up to 350 wind turbines and generate up to 990 megawatts of electricity. Other project components would include buried power collection lines and communication cables, access roads, meteorological towers, substation(s) and switchyard(s), operation and maintenance building, a single or double-circuited 120 to 230 kilovolt overhead transmission line, and portable cement batch plants and rock crushing facilities.
County Building Director Cory Lytle said Lincoln County has proposed several alternative sites to Wilson Creek Wind, up around the Bristol Range, Highland Range, and in the Chief Mountain area.
However, Wilson Creek Wind up until now has shown very little interest in any other locations than Mt. Wilson.
Connie Simkins, secretary of the N4 Grazing Board, said she received a letter from Nellis Air Base, stating they believed ground based wind generators located along Wilson Creek “may adversely effect impact the military airborne radars during testing and training.” Nellis officials said in the letter they are currently studying the problem.
In a related issue, Commissioners passed a motion 4-0, with Commissioner Donohue being absent, to file a notice as an intervening party with the Public Utilities Commission, and will give the County the ability to have a seat at the table in the decision making process with the PUC.
Commissioner Phillips also suggested the County might seek to apply for an even stronger position as a consulting agency with the Bureau of Land Management when the EIS process is resumed next year.
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