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‘Can’t please everybody.’ Community members, local officials continue to question wind project

JEROME – Magic Valley Energy held a third open house on Wednesday to speak with residents about its proposed wind project.

County commissioners, community members and other guests gathered at Renew Coffee Shop in Jerome to learn about the project. Luke Papez, project manager from MVE, said open houses provide an opportunity for public engagement and communication with the community.

“Our goal is to continue the conversation,” Papez said.

The Lava Ridge Wind Project is in the early stages. Plans estimate the site would produce 1,000 megawatts of wind energy, making it not only the largest in the state but among the largest in the U.S.

Questions regarding decommission, sage grouse, job opportunities and how landowners can participate in the project were discussed, Papez said.

Lincoln County commissioner, Roy Hubert, decided to attend to gather information on the project.

“I think a wind project is a good thing in the right place, but I don’t think this is the right place because it’s in my backyard,” Hubert said.

Many residents within his district have contacted him and the majority are opposed to the project, he said. There are concerns for the visual impact, noise levels and road development.

“Only one side is going to be satisfied and the other side is going to be dissatisfied,” he said. “Can’t please everybody.”

The Bureau of Land Management, who manages the proposed project land, held two public scoping meetings last week. Due to high attendance, the agency decided to extend the public scoping period.

Public scoping is one of the first steps in the environmental impact process which is required under US environmental law. During this time period, the public is asked to submit comments on what factors the BLM should consider while creating the draft environmental impact statement.

Hubert said he submitted a comment and heard people within his district have sent in comments also.

The deadline for comment is now Oct. 20.

Rep. Laurie Lickley, a Jerome Republican, attended the open house to get a better understanding of the proposal.

“I am a state legislator and this is a federal and a local issue, so I am here to just better understand what is going on,” Lickley said.

She visited with fellow colleagues and ranching families today and heard their concerns that will be addressed in the environmental impact statement process. This project could be an economic stimulus in terms of job creation and the workforce participating in the local economy, she said.

“We’re farming wind, much like we farm and raise cattle or potatoes,” Lickley said.

How to submit a comment

Comments can be submitted online, by email or mail. Comments must be summited or postmarked by Oct. 20. 

To submit online: Go to eplanning.blm.gov, and type in Lava Ridge Wind Project in the advanced search bar. Click on the blue project page link and then click the green comment bubble on the left side of the screen labeled “Participate Now.” On the participation page, scroll to the right until the green participate now button appears. Click on that button to provide your comment. There is an option to upload files.

To submit via email: BLM_ID_LavaRidge@blm.gov

To submit via mail: Kasey Prestwich, Project Manager, BLM Shoshone Field Office, 400 West F Street, Shoshone, ID 83352