Interconnection of the Proposed Rail Tie Wind Project, Wyoming (DOE/EIS-0543)

Federal Register, Volume 84 Issue 249 (Monday, December 30, 2019)
[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 249 (Monday, December 30, 2019)]
[Pages 71921-71923]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office []
[FR Doc No: 2019-28222]
Western Area Power Administration
Interconnection of the Proposed Rail Tie Wind Project, Wyoming
AGENCY: Western Area Power Administration, DOE.
ACTION: Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement
and to conduct scoping meetings; notice of floodplain and wetlands
SUMMARY: ConnectGen Albany County LLC applied to interconnect their
proposed Rail Tie Wind Project (Project) with the Western Area Power
Administration's (WAPA) existing Ault-Craig 345-kilovolt (kV)
transmission line in Albany County, Wyoming. WAPA will prepare an
environmental impact statement (EIS) on the proposal to interconnect
the Project in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of
1969 (NEPA), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) NEPA Implementing
Procedures, and the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations
for implementing NEPA. Portions of the proposed Project may affect
floodplains and wetlands, so this Notice of Intent (NOI) also serves as
a notice of proposed floodplain or wetland action in accordance with
DOE floodplain and wetland environmental review requirements.
DATES: The public scoping period starts with the publication of this
notice and ends on January 29, 2020. To initiate the public involvement
process, informational/public scoping meetings will be held in Laramie,
Wyoming, near the Project site. Public notice of the date, time, and
place of the meetings will be posted on the Project website at All known interested parties, agencies, tribes, and the
public will be notified of the meetings directly via the Project
mailing list, and via paid advertising, news releases, or other
appropriate means. WAPA will consider all comments on the scope of the
EIS received or postmarked by the end of the scoping period. The public
is invited to submit comments on the proposed Project for WAPA's
consideration at any time during the EIS process.
ADDRESSES: Oral or written comments may be provided at the public
scoping meetings or mailed or emailed to Mark Wieringa, NEPA Document
Manager, Headquarters, Western Area Power Administration, P.O. Box
281213, Lakewood, CO 80228-8213, email [email protected], telephone
(720) 962-7448.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For additional information on the
scoping meeting, proposed Project, the EIS process, or to receive a
copy of the Draft EIS when it is published, contact Mark Wieringa using
the information above. For general information on DOE's NEPA review
process, contact Brian Costner, Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance,
GC-54, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW,
Washington, DC 20585-0119, email [email protected], telephone (202)
586-4600 or (800) 472-2756, facsimile (202) 586-7031.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: WAPA is a Federal power marketing
administration within the DOE that markets and delivers Federal
wholesale electric power (principally hydroelectric power) to
municipalities, rural electric cooperatives, public utilities,
irrigation districts, Federal and State agencies, and Native American
tribes in 15 western and central States. The proposed Project would be
located within WAPA's Rocky Mountain Region, which operates in Arizona,
Colorado, most of Wyoming, and portions of Kansas, Nebraska, New
Mexico, and Utah. ConnectGen applied to interconnect up to 504
megawatts (MW), via two 252-MW applications, with WAPA's existing Ault-
Craig 345-kV transmission line in Albany County,
[[Page 71922]]
Wyoming. The Ault-Craig transmission line passes through the proposed
Project area, which is located south of Laramie and north of the
Colorado state line, on either side of U.S. Highway 287. The proposed
Project would be located on private and State lands; no federally-
managed land would be affected. There are no designated cooperating
agencies at this time, but cooperating agencies could be identified at
a later date.
    WAPA will prepare an EIS on the interconnection of the proposed
Project in accordance with NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.); DOE NEPA
Implementing Procedures (10 CFR part 1021), and the CEQ regulations for
implementing NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508).
Purpose and Need for Agency Action
    WAPA needs to consider ConnectGen's interconnection request under
its Open Access Transmission Service Tariff (Tariff), which provides
for open access to its transmission system through an interconnection
if there is available capacity in the transmission system. This EIS
will address WAPA's Federal action of interconnecting the proposed
Project to WAPA's transmission system, constructing an interconnection
switchyard on the existing Ault-Craig transmission line, and making any
necessary system modifications to accommodate the interconnection of
ConnectGen's proposed Project. Preliminary studies indicate that the
power system can accommodate the proposed interconnection without
negatively affecting system reliability or power deliveries to existing
customers. The transmission system may require network and/or
transmission system upgrades as determined in the final studies.
WAPA's Proposed Action
    Subject to compliance with the provisions of the Tariff and after
consideration of the impacts identified in the Final EIS, WAPA will
consider approving ConnectGen's interconnection request and
constructing a 345-kV interconnection switchyard on the Ault-Craig
transmission line. By taking this action, power generated by the
proposed Project would use WAPA's transmission system to reach the
market. If WAPA's decision is to approve the interconnection request,
WAPA would construct, own, operate, and maintain a 345-kV
interconnection switchyard located adjacent to the Ault-Craig
transmission line. The interconnection switchyard would consist of a
line interconnection, switching equipment and breakers, a control
house, communications gear, supervisory control and data acquisition
(SCADA) capability, and related equipment. The switchyard would be
eight to ten acres in size, surfaced with gravel or crushed rock and
enclosed by security fencing.
    WAPA will evaluate location options for its interconnection
switchyard within the proposed Project area along the existing Ault-
Craig transmission line. Under the No Action Alternative, WAPA would
not approve the interconnection request or construct the
interconnection facility.
Applicant's Proposed Project
    ConnectGen's proposed Project would consist of up to 84 to 151 wind
turbine generators with a generating capability of 3 to 6 MW each, for
a combined total generating capacity of up to 504 MW. The wind turbines
would be located within an approximately 26,000-acre site in southeast
Albany County, Wyoming, roughly centered on the town of Tie Siding and
bisected by U.S. Highway 287. The turbines would be located in a
varying number of generally north-south oriented strings of varying
lengths, with the strings being approximately one-half mile apart.
Separation between turbines, between turbine strings, and the number of
turbine strings would vary with different turbine sizes. Each turbine
would have a maximum height of up to 675 feet to the blade tip, and a
permanent footprint including base, transformer, and associated pads of
about one-tenth of an acre.
    In addition to the turbines, temporary access roads and permanent
all-weather access roads to each turbine location would be required. To
the extent possible, existing roads and trails would be incorporated
into the access road system and upgraded as necessary. It is estimated
that approximately 60 miles of new permanent all-weather access roads
would be needed for the proposed Project.
    Two 345-kV Project substations, one on either side of U.S. Highway
287 would be constructed. The substation sites would be about five
acres in size, and each would contain one or two main power
transformers, breakers and switches, control buildings, SCADA and
metering equipment, a permanent meteorological tower, and other related
equipment. The substations would be gravel- or crushed rock-surfaced,
and enclosed by security fencing. Approximately four miles of 345-kV
single circuit transmission line would connect the two Project
substations with WAPA's interconnection switchyard. Up to 105 miles of
34.5-kV collection lines would connect the transformers at each turbine
to the Project substations. The collection lines would typically be
34.5 kV, and would likely be a combination of buried electrical cables
and overhead lines on poles 30 to 50 feet tall. To the extent
practicable, the collection lines would parallel Project access roads
to limit environmental disturbance and facilitate maintenance.
    The proposed Project would also include eight 105-meter-tall
permanent meteorological towers, four on either side of the highway,
each located so as to best capture wind and other weather data. The
towers would likely be of the self-supported, lattice-mast type, to
eliminate the bird collision risk posed by guy wires.
    An approximately 7,000-square-foot operations and maintenance (O&M)
building would be constructed to support the proposed Project. The O&M
building would include water, sanitary, and electrical services, and
would house equipment for monitoring turbine operation and performance
and a shop area for repair and maintenance. The O&M building would be
located within an approximately five-acre security-fenced area, which
would provide a secure yard for vehicle parking and spare components.
    Several temporary laydown yards of approximately 15 acres each
would be sited after biological and cultural resources surveys were
completed to avoid sensitive areas. The sites would be temporarily
gravel-surfaced and would serve as vehicle parking and staging areas
for construction equipment and turbine and collection line components
and materials. These sites would be reclaimed after completion of
construction. Although mobile concrete mixing batch plants are not
proposed at this time, it is possible they could be employed. As with
the laydown yards, any batch plant sites would be surveyed before use,
and reclaimed after construction was completed.
    Although WAPA's Federal action is to consider the interconnection
request and the physical interconnection to WAPA's existing
transmission system, the EIS will also identify and analyze the
environmental impacts of ConnectGen's entire proposed Project.
ConnectGen would complete necessary coordination with State and local
agencies to permit their proposed Project, while WAPA would be
responsible for its interconnection switchyard.
Floodplain or Wetland Involvement
    Since the proposed Project may involve action in floodplains or
[[Page 71923]]
wetlands, this NOI also serves as a notice of proposed floodplain or
wetland action. The EIS will include a floodplain/wetland assessment
and floodplain/wetland statement of findings following DOE regulations
for compliance with floodplain and wetlands environmental review (10
CFR part 1022).
Environmental Issues
    The location of the proposed Project is in a sparsely populated
portion of southeastern Wyoming. Available overview information
indicates this area has a relatively low probability of substantial
natural resources conflicts. This information includes the 2012 Draft
EIS for the Hermosa West Wind Energy Project (DOE/EIS-0438), which
analyzed an area largely included in the proposed Project west of U.S.
Highway 287. ConnectGen's siting process for the wind turbine strings
and associated facilities will consider sensitive resources, and the
proposed Project would be designed to avoid these areas. The EIS will
evaluate the level of impact WAPA's proposed action and ConnectGen's
proposed Project alternatives would have on environmental resources
within the approximately 26,000-acre site, which may lead to
modifications in the proposed Project to further avoid or minimize
resource impacts. Although no substantive resource conflicts have been
identified thus far, the EIS will analyze the potential impacts on
potentially affected environmental resources. Wind turbine power
generation projects are generally known to have visual and noise
effects, and may affect birds and bats.
Public Participation
    Interested parties are invited to participate in the scoping
process to help define the important resources and issues to be
analyzed in depth, and to eliminate from detailed study issues that are
not pertinent. The scoping process will involve all interested agencies
(Federal, State, county, and local), Native American tribes, public
interest groups, businesses, affected landowners, and individual
members of the public.
    WAPA will consult with potentially affected tribes to jointly
evaluate and address the potential Project effects on cultural
resources, traditional cultural properties, or other resources
important to the tribes. These consultations will be conducted in
accordance with Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination
with Indian Tribal Governments (65 FR 67249), the President's
memorandum of April 29, 1994, Government-to-Government Relations with
Native American Tribal Governments (59 FR 22951), DOE-specific guidance
on tribal interactions, and applicable natural and cultural resources
laws and regulations.
    Public informational/scoping meetings will be held as described
under DATES and ADDRESSES sections at the beginning of this notice. The
meetings will be informal, and attendees will be able to speak directly
with WAPA and ConnectGen representatives about the proposed Project.
The public is encouraged to provide information and comments on issues
it believes WAPA should address in the EIS. Comments may be broad in
nature or restricted to specific areas of concern, but should be
directly relevant to Project issues, the NEPA process, or expected
resource impacts. After gathering comments on the scope of the EIS
during the 30-day scoping period, WAPA will address the issues raised
in the EIS. Comments on WAPA's proposed action and ConnectGen's
proposed Project will be accepted and considered at any time during the
EIS process, and may be directed to WAPA as described under the
ADDRESSES section.
    WAPA's EIS process will include the public scoping meetings;
consultation and coordination with appropriate Federal, State, county,
and local agencies and tribal governments; involvement with affected
landowners; distribution of and public review and comment on the Draft
EIS; a public hearing or hearings on the Draft EIS; distribution of a
published Final EIS; and publication of WAPA's Record of Decision in
the Federal Register.
    Dated: December 17, 2019.
Mark A. Gabriel,
[FR Doc. 2019-28222 Filed 12-27-19; 8:45 am]