RAWLINS – Mere days after clearing the last state regulatory hurdle for what could become the largest wind farm in the U.S., the Power Company of Wyoming got its first of two required environmental assessments from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
The 284-page document details new infrastructure components that the wind farm will need and how they could impact the environment in Carbon County where the $5 billion wind farm would be installed over the course of eight years. According to the document, a new haul road and arterial roads along with other new facilities including water stations and five “laydown yards” will be among new infrastructure for the massive project.
Furthermore, a new rail yard called the West Sinclair Rail Facility will connect a Union Pacific line between Rawlins and Sinclair to deliver components and construction materials for the 3,000-megawatt wind farm.
“The rail facility connects with the Chokecherry/Sierra Madre Project and is designed to minimize impacts on public roadways, provide more cost-effective transportation and promote efficient project construction activities,” the BLM wrote in the EA. “The approximately 14 miles of track feature a wye, a lead track, a running track, a loop track and several unloading areas.”
Lastly, the project would expand an existing rock quarry to harvest base material for the new roads that will be required for the wind farm.
“As construction details evolved, it became apparent that the quarry would improve the efficiency of the … project by decreasing the number of train and truck trips from offsite quarries,” the EA stated.
The study looked at the quarry as a source of air contamination to be examined, and determined that it wouldn’t degrade regional air quality.
Socioeconomically, the BLM said that the project’s first phase, which will install the first 500 of 1,000 proposed mills, will reach peak construction employment of about 240 workers. The number of additional workers doesn’t exceed housing availability for the area.
The second EA required for the first phase of construction for the wind turbines themselves should be completed by year-end.
In the meantime, the BLM will accept public comment on the EA, available here, until Sept. 10.
The agency has also scheduled two open houses for the public to ask questions and submit comments about the EA. They will be held from 4:30 to 7 p.m., Aug. 25, Platte Valley Community Center, 210 W. Elm Ave., Saratoga; and Aug. 26, Jeffrey Center, 315 W. Pine St., Rawlins. Each meeting will include a presentation at 5:30 p.m.
Written comments may be emailed to BLM_WY_PCW_windfarm@blm.gov with “Infrastructure EA Comment” in the subject line; faxed to 307-328-4224; or mailed or delivered to BLM Rawlins Field Office, Attn: Heather Schultz, CCSM Infrastructure EA, 1300 N. Third St., P.O. Box 2407, Rawlins WY 82301.
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