Wind power generation uses turbines to capture the kinetic energy of wind currents and convert it into electrical power. Utility-scale turbines are mounted on towers 200 feet or more above the land surface, where winds are faster and there is less turbulence. Technological advances in turbine siting and design have increased their generating capacity while continuing to reduce their environmental impacts.
Because there are no emissions involved, wind energy's environmental impact per unit of electricity generated in significantly lower than that of other forms of power generation. In addition, wind energy is not subject to the same price fluctuations as natural gas and oil. Producing electric power using wind conserves natural gas and helps relieve price pressures on that resource.
The U.S. has about 21,000 MW of installed wind energy capacity. Projects with about 327 MW of capacity have been installed on lands on BLM-managed lands. Applications for up to 3,000 MW additional capacity are being processed in BLM offices nationwide.
The BLM processes wind energy development proposals as right-of-way (ROW) applications, through its Lands & Realty divisions. Realty specialists in BLM Field Offices are guided by the 2005 programmatic environmental impact statement on wind energy development and the Bureau's wind energy development policy.
China Mountain (Jarbidge Field Office)
The BLM began reviewing the proposed 425 MW China Mountain wind energy project in 2008 in an environmental impact statement (EIS) that analyzes the potential impacts of the project and identifies any conditions of approval or mitigation measures necessary to protect environmental, cultural or tribal resources. Of the approximately 30,700 acres in the project area, 15,300 acres are administered by the Jarbidge FO, and 4,700 acres are administered by the BLM field office in Wells, Nevada (Elko District).
The BLM has deferred a final decision on the project and suspended work on the Final EIS until the Idaho and Southwestern Montana Sub-regional Greater Sage-Grouse Draft Environmental Impact Statement and associated resource management plan amendments and Jarbidge Resource Management Plan revision are completed.
The BLM completed an environmental assessment (EA) for siting three meteorological (met) towers to measure wind in the area in October 2009.
The BLM planning process allows for broad public involvement, tribal consultation, and cooperation by other governmental agencies. Join the project mailing list to receive updates on the progress of the EIS.