Example Descriptions of Proposed Actions
Last Page Update: August 4th, 2010
Adequate descriptions of proposed actions usually include five elements: who, what, how, when and where. The level of detail used to describe a proposed action will vary by the nature and stage of the project.
Excerpt from an EA-
Need for Proposed Action
To provide for the development of oil and gas resources and to supply energy resources to the American public.
Description of the Proposed Action
The proposed action is to grant a Right-of-Way to Jack J. Grynberg for an access road and well pad on BLM administered land located in the Hiawatha Field. The mineral estate is owned by the State of Colorado. A Right-of-Way (ROW) application has been submitted for the access road and the Hiawatha State1A Well pad. The ROW includes a Plan of Development that covers mitigation of impacts to vegetation, soil, surface water, and other resources. Mitigation not incorporated by Jack Grynberg in the surface plan would be attached by the BLM as stipulations to the ROW grant.
The project is located approximately 50 miles southeast of Rock Springs, Wyoming. Construction work is planned to start during the summer of 2006 and the estimated duration of construction and drilling for the well is 45 to 60 days. A short access road would be constructed for the well. Total surface disturbance for road construction and the well pad would be 2.95 acres.
The proposed well pad would be cleared of all vegetation and leveled for drilling. The existing fence would be cut and new fence installed around the well pad. Topsoil and native vegetation would be stockpiled for use in reclamation.
Approximately 1.54 acres would be disturbed for construction of the well pad. This would include the 200’ by 300’ well pad, the topsoil, and subsoil piles and excess cut area. A reserve pit would be constructed on the well pad to hold drill mud and cuttings. Water and sewage associated with the trailers will be hauled to an approved disposal facility. If a well is a producer, cut portions of the well site would be backfilled and unused portions of the well site would be stabilized and re-vegetated. If a gas well proves unproductive, it would be properly plugged and the entire well pad and short access road would be reclaimed.
Grynberg did not include plans for a gas sale pipeline with the Hiawatha State 1A Well. A detailed written statement of work would be filed with the BLM before pipeline installation for this well. This application would be assessed, when it is received, for environmental impacts of a gas sales pipeline.
Excerpt from EIS including Connected Actions –
West Butte Wind Power LLC (West Butte Wind) is proposing to construct, operate, and maintain a wind energy generation facility in Deschutes and Crook Counties, Oregon. The West Butte Wind Power Project would consist of up to 52 wind turbines, access roads, a substation, an Operations and Maintenance facility, collector lines to transmit the generated energy to the substation, and a transmission line to transmit the energy from the project substation to the point of interconnection at an existing Bonneville Power Authority transmission line. A majority of the project would be located on private lands. However, a portion of the project access road and transmission line would cross approximately 3.8 miles of public lands administered by the BLM Prineville District. In this example, the non-federal action can be prevented by BLM decision-making (because the private land is surrounded by BLM administered land) and therefore is a connected action.
PURPOSE AND NEED FOR THE PROPOSED ACTION
The purpose of BLM’s action is to respond to West Butte Wind’s application for use of BLM-administered lands for a new utility and road ROW. Specifically, BLM will decide whether to grant, grant with conditions, or deny the application for a new ROW. Pursuant to 43 CFR § 2805.10, if BLM issues a grant, the BLM decision maker may include terms, conditions, and stipulations which she or he determines to be in the public interest. This includes modifying the proposed use or changing the route or location of the facilities on public land. The need for BLM’s Proposed Action, to respond to the utility ROW application, arises from the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976, which establishes a multiple use mandate for management of federal lands, including energy generation and transmission facilities as outlined in 43 CFR 2800. Pursuant to 43 CFR § 2801.2, it is BLM’s objective to grant ROWs and to control their use on public lands in a manner that: (a) protects the natural resources associated with public lands and adjacent lands, whether private or administered by a government entity; (b) prevents unnecessary or undue degradation to public lands; (c) promotes the use of ROWs in common, considering engineering and technological compatibility, national security, and land use plans; and (d) coordinates, to the fullest extent possible, all BLM actions under the regulations in this part with state and local governments, interested individuals, and appropriate quasi-public entities.
DESCRIPTION OF PROPOSED AND CONNECTED ACTIONS
The Proposed Action under consideration in this analysis is the BLM’s authorization of a
100-foot-wide, 3.9-mile-long ROW across federally administered lands for the construction and operation of an access road and transmission line (see Figure 2-1C). Although a 100- foot-wide ROW is being requested, the project facilities would be limited to a corridor approximately 30 feet wide. The ROW would permanently accommodate:
- a 3.9-mile-long, 24-foot-wide permanent access road;
- a pole-mounted 115 kV electrical transmission line, constructed using single wooden poles, 50 to 53 feet high, spaced at 300-foot intervals, located six feet from the edge of the access road.
- a 14.4 kV electrical utility line under-hung on the transmission line pole structures described above; and,
- a fiber optic communication line that would also be located on the transmission line poles.
The 3.9-mile access road proposed on BLM-managed public lands would be accessible from
the south via a private gravel road located in Deschutes County. The access road on BLM managed public lands would provide access to the north to a private road located in Crook County. Both of these private roads are described below in Section 2.1.2, Connected Actions.
Of the 3.9 miles of access road proposed on BLM-managed public lands, 3.65 miles would
follow an existing gravel road. The existing road would be widened and upgraded. At its northernmost location, a new 0.25-mile section of road would be constructed to connect the access road on BLM-managed public lands with a private road in Crook County.
During construction, both the new and upgraded sections of the access road on BLM managed public lands would be graded to a permanent, finished width of 24 feet to allow transportation of turbine components, turbine assembly cranes, and other construction materials and equipment. The minimum road width (24 feet) is required to accommodate the width and length of the specialized cranes needed to transport, install, and maintain the various turbine components. In areas of steep slopes (at the north connection with private property in Crook County, for approximately 0.25 mile) the construction width may be up to 100 feet. The remainder of the road (3.65 miles) would be constructed at 24 feet wide. After construction is completed, the entire length of access road would be maintained at a width of 24 feet.
The roadway would be constructed of compacted gravel/base material and surfaced with aggregate materials. The revegetated road shoulder on each side of the permanent roadway would vary in width between 2 and 76 feet in hilly sections, where wider shoulders may be needed to accommodate any cut and fill that would be necessary to create the appropriate
uphill and downhill slopes (generally to be built to a 2:1 grade and engineered to ensure road
and slope stability).
The access road would incorporate the following design features:
- An existing road would be used to the maximum extent feasible, but only if in safe and environmentally sound locations. Where a new road is necessary, it would be designed and constructed to the appropriate standard as described below. The design would be no higher than necessary to accommodate the intended functions (e.g., traffic volume and weight of vehicles). Excessive grades on the road, road embankments, ditches, and drainages would be avoided.
- An access-road siting and management plan would be prepared incorporating existing BLM standards regarding road design, construction, and maintenance such as those described in the BLM 9113 Manual (BLM 1985) and the Surface Operating Standards for Oil and Gas Exploration and Development (Rocky Mountain Regional Coordinating Committee 1989) (i.e., the Gold Book).
- The access road would be located to follow natural contours and minimize side-hill cuts.
- The road would be designed so that changes to surface water runoff are avoided and erosion is not initiated.
- The road would be located away from drainage bottoms and would avoid wetlands and stream crossings.
- Existing drainage systems would not be altered, especially in sensitive areas such as erodible soils or steep slopes. Potential soil erosion would be controlled at culvert outlets with appropriate structures. Catch basins, roadway ditches, and culverts would be cleaned and maintained regularly.
- The full 100-foot ROW width would only be used in areas of steep cross slopes where a wider road is needed to ensure safe road conditions. Removal of vegetation would be limited to only the area of the ROW that is needed for construction of the road and transmission line facilities.
- Project personnel and contractors would be instructed and required to adhere to speed limits commensurate with road types, traffic volumes, vehicle types, and site-specific conditions, to ensure safe and efficient traffic flow, to minimize wildlife collisions or disturbance, and reduce airborne dust. West Butte Wind would instruct project personnel and contractors to adhere to a 25 mile per hour (mph) speed limit established for all project related traffic on the access road. The speed limits would apply to construction, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning project phases.
- During construction and operation, traffic would be restricted to the roads developed for the project. Use of other unimproved roads would be allowed only in emergency situations. Construction personnel would be required to avoid driving over or otherwise disturbing areas outside the designated construction areas.
- West Butte Wind would be required to seek review and approval of any road signs that may be deemed appropriate to control traffic on the access road on BLM-administered lands.
- Access to and from private lands from the access road on BLM-managed public lands would not be restricted, except for the existing cattle guards associated with existing fences. If other BLM trails or roads would intersect the proposed main access road on BLM–managed lands, these intersections would not be gated or fenced in any way.
West Butte Wind proposes to construct an approximately 3.9-mile 115 kV transmission line across BLM-managed public lands to allow interconnection of the Connected Action with the
regional transmission system. The transmission line on BLM-managed public lands would connect a transmission line constructed on private lands in Crook County from the north, to a
transmission line constructed on private lands in Deschutes County to the south. The alignment of this transmission line is shown in Figure 2-1.
The transmission line would be located adjacent to the main access road, in a corridor 6 feet wide. During construction, some vegetation may be removed from this corridor to allow equipment and vehicles to install the poles and string the conductor. After construction is finished, this corridor would be revegetated.
The transmission line would be constructed on a series of single wooden poles, 50 to 53 feet
in installed height. Sixty-foot wooden poles would be buried 7 to 10 feet in the ground. The
typical span between poles would be about 300 feet. Span distances may vary by about 50
feet to accommodate pole placement to avoid drainages or rocky areas. Single steel poles
could be used at acute angle points (alternatively, wooden poles at acute angle points may
have guy wires).
Three types of wires would be hung from the poles:
- a new overhead 115 kV transmission line that would carry the power generated by the Connected Action facilities located on private land in Crook county to the Connected Action facilities located on private lands in Deschutes County;
- a 14.4 kV Oregon Central Electric Cooperative electrical utility line to provide operational power to the Connected Action facilities located in Crook County; and,
- a fiber optic line for the communications and control systems between the Connected Action facilities located in Crook and Deschutes counties. This fiber optic line would be under-hung on the transmission poles.
- Per the Upper Deschutes ROD/RMP’s Visual Resource objective VR-1, all transmission line towers and conductors associated with the Proposed Action would use non-reflective surfaces or be painted to minimize visual impacts and blend in with the adjacent landscape.
As noted above, Connected Actions analyzed as part of this EIS include the construction and
operation of the West Butte Wind Power Project facilities that would be located on private
lands. West Butte Wind is proposing to construct, operate, and maintain a wind energy
generation facility in Deschutes and Crook counties, Oregon.
The Connected Action includes those project elements that would be constructed and
operated on private land in Crook and Deschutes counties. The proposed WTGs and
substation would be located on-private land in Crook County. An O&M building and
overhead 115 kV power line to facilitate transmission of power to a new BPA switchyard
would be located on private land in Deschutes County. See Figures 2-1B and 2-1C. The
corresponding temporary and permanent foot print associated with the connected action is
shown in Table 2.2-1 below (removed for example).
The principal and ancillary facilities associated with the project include:
- 34 to 52 2.0 to 3.0 MW WTGs (total project generating capacity would not exceed 104 MW), located in Crook County;
- about 12.5 miles of underground and overhead 34.5 kV collector lines from the WTG transformers to the project substation;
- a project substation located in Crook County which would boost the 34.5 kV turbine production power to 115 kV transmission power;
- 1.1 miles of the 5-mile new overhead 115 kV transmission line to interconnect the project with the existing BPA Redmond-Harney 115 kV line would be constructed on private lands (0.6 miles in Crook County, and 0.5 miles in Deschutes County, 3.9 miles on BLM-managed lands);
- a switchyard located in Deschutes County (to be built, owned, and operated by BPA) at the project interconnect at the existing BPA Redmond-Harney 115 kV line that generally consists of a single line termination, disconnect switches, power circuit breaker, and a 115 kV takeoff structure;
- approximately 18 miles of new turbine access roads (all located in Crook County);
- approximately 4.5 miles of main access roads across private lands from Highway 20 to the project substation in Crook County (widening or improving existing roads);
- a project O&M facility to be located in Deschutes County;
- an overhead 14.4 kV power line (owned and operated by Central Electric COOP) to supply the O&M building and substation; and,
- up to three meteorological towers, about 262 feet high, to collect wind condition data at the site, all located in Crook County.
The preliminary layout of project components and facilities included as Connected Actions is
shown in Figure 2-1.
Wind Turbine Generators
Each WTG consists of several components, which are individually transported to the site and erected. The components include the tower, nacelle, hub, blades and rotor, controller, and
transformer. Each tower would be located on a concrete foundation. On top of each tower would be a nacelle containing the mechanical drive train of the WTG, including the generator
unit used to create electricity from the wind. Three blades, collectively called the rotor, are
mounted to the hub on the front of the generator unit. The blades spin as lift is created from
the wind passing over them. A transformer is used to step-up the electric voltage produced by the generator to a level suitable for distribution into the electrical collection system.
Depending on the model selected, 34 to 52 WTGs are proposed for this project (see
Figure 2-1). The WTGs would be approximately 400 to 500 feet high, from foundation to
blade tip, with the blade in an upright position (see Figure 2-2). The WTGs do not operate at high wind speeds due to the high loads exerted on the equipment; the maximum operating wind speed would be in the range of 45 to 55 miles per hour, depending on the specific
model chosen. In higher wind speeds, for equipment protection reasons, the blades would feather and a brake would be applied to lock the blades and keep them from rotating. Turbines with low revolutions per minute (RPM) have been selected to minimize risk of bird collision. The WTGs and their towers would be equipped with grounding and lighting protection devices in compliance with applicable safety standards, for example the most current National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems (NFPA standard 780, current issue 2008).
Because of the structural nature of the WTGs and WTG arrays, the design of the proposed facilities associated with the Connected Actions would be integrated with the surrounding
landscape. Visual uniformity has been taken into consideration as a design element, and the structures would be constructed as tubular towers, painted with non-reflective white paint.
Manufacturer logos or other commercial messages would not be displayed on the turbines.
For aeronautical safety, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires approved safety
lighting of structures taller than 200 feet (FAA 2007). These requirements apply to the WTGs that make up a wind generation facility. The FAA does not require daytime lighting (with white lights) if the turbines are painted a light color. The FAA does require periodically spaced nighttime red aviation synchronized warning lights. Not all of the turbines are required to be lit. The lighting scheme depends on whether the WTGs are arranged in strings or clustered. Typically, lighting is required at the periphery of a cluster or at the ends of a string to identify the boundaries of the structures, with additional lights located at half-mile intervals. The FAA reviews and approves the lighting arrangement prior to construction once the final project layout has been developed.
The West Butte Wind Power Project would be designed to comply with FAA regulations,
including lighting regulations, to avoid potential air traffic safety issues. West Butte Wind
would choose FAA-compliant lights. The FAA currently recommends red strobe lights with
a pulse rate of 24 per minute on wind turbines. Preliminary indications are that strobe lights
are less impactful to birds than steady lights (American Bird Conservancy 2010). WTG and other project lighting (see Operations and Maintenance Facility, below) is not expected to impact the Pine Mountain Observatory, as the observatory is located on the south side of Pine
Mountain and the view to the north is already obstructed (Bothun 2010).
The towers supporting the WTGs would be heavy-duty tapered monopoles of welded steel or
concrete design, mounted on concrete foundations. One recently developed design uses a pretension concrete tower, constructed in segments. Depending upon the wind flow across the site, the type of tower chosen, and the surface conditions, the towers would be approximately
262 to 328 feet high, from foundation to hub. Wind shear, the percent of increase in wind speed from the ground level as height above ground increases, is one of the most important considerations determining tower height.
The towers would be approximately 15 feet in diameter at the base where they are bolted to
the reinforced concrete foundation, and approximately 7 feet in diameter at the nacelle. Each tower would weigh approximately 80 to 285 tons and would be transported in three to four
sections, depending on hub height and design. All surfaces are sandblasted and multi-layer
painted inside and out with a tough epoxy-based paint to resist corrosion. Access to the
turbine is through a lockable steel door at the base of the tower. Four platforms are connected
with a ladder and a fall-arresting safety system for access to the nacelle. There would be no
guy wires required to hold the towers upright – tubular towers would be used to minimize risk of bird collision with the WTGs.
Up to three permanent meteorological towers would be installed in the project area, located
at the same spots as the existing temporary meteorological towers. Each meteorological
tower would be supported by guy wires and would be approximately 262 feet high. The meteorological towers would be lit with red nighttime lights in accordance with FAA
requirements as described above. The approximate location of these towers is shown in Figure 2-1.
Throughout the operational life of the project, these meteorological towers record weather data that includes wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure. This data is used to determine the generation efficiency of the project over time and to adjust the operation of the WTGs to extract the maximum potential energy out of the wind resource.
West Butte Wind would implement the following design measures associated with permanent meteorological tower installation:
- The area disturbed by installation of meteorological towers (i.e., footprint) would be kept to a minimum.
- Meteorological towers installed for site monitoring and testing would be inspected periodically for structural integrity.
- Bird flight diverters would be used to minimize potential for avian collisions with guy wires.
Electrical Collector System and Transmission Line
Electricity produced by the WTGs would be fed down the tower via three-phase 600 Volt
cables to pad-mounted electrical transformers that raise the voltage to transmission levels
(34.5 kV). The transformers would be located near the base of each tower and encompass an
area of approximately 64 square feet. Each array of WTGs would be interconnected through
underground cables, which would run to the project substation.
All electrical collector lines would be buried in a manner that minimizes additional surface
disturbance (e.g., along roads or other existing paths of surface disturbance). These 34.5 kV
conductor cables would be buried underground in 3- to 5-foot-wide and 3- to 5-foot-deep
trenches, parallel to access roads and existing or new utility corridors. Overhead pole lines
would be used as part of the collector system to avoid trenching in areas of extensive rock or
across steep drainages. For example, in areas where the topography does not permit
underground the cables, they would be strung on overhead timber poles to span the
obstruction. The poles would be similar in height and installation as described in Section 2.2.
At the project substation, the voltage of the electrical current produced at the turbines would
be increased to 115 kV. From the project substation, a new overhead 115 kV transmission
line would be constructed south to the existing BPA 115 kV transmission line. The new
115 kV transmission line would continuously connect from the north and the south to the
transmission line constructed on BLM-managed public lands as part of the Proposed Action
(described above). On private land, 1.1 miles of transmission line would be constructed and
would be identical in design and construction methods to the line on BLM-managed public
lands described above. The line on private lands would also carry a 115 kV electrical
transmission line, a 14.4 kV utility line, and an optic fiber communications line.
The transmission line on private lands would interconnect to the BPA switchyard and
existing Redmond-Harney 115-kV line south of the wind farm site. This power line would
also run on single wooden poles, along existing roads, across private and BLM-managed
public lands along the alignment shown in Figure 2-1.
The proposed project substation would be located in Crook County in the center of the wind
farm site on top of West Butte (see Figure 2-1). The substation would consist of a main step up transformer and other facilities to increase the 34.5 kV power from the project collector
lines to a higher voltage for delivery to BPA’s 115 kV system. The substation would be similar to those typically used on transmission systems in the region and would be approximately 0.75 acre in size, within a fenced enclosure. The substation would be painted a neutral color to reduce contrast with the surrounding landscape. Additional lighting at the substation would be limited to reduce nighttime light pollution through the use of directed lighting, timers, and motion sensors.
Operations and Maintenance Facility
An O&M facility, including a control room for project operations, is planned to be located
just north of Highway 20 in Deschutes County (see Figure 2-1). Access to the Project Area
from this single location would ensure that all visitors would have to check into the O&M
facility before traveling to the project site. Additionally, the proposed location would allow
trucks to deliver supplies during the winter when access to the project area could be more
difficult because of snow on the higher elevations of the site. The O&M facility would
include a single building accommodating offices, spare parts storage, restroom, and a shop
area. The building would be a single-story metal “Butler” type, 50 feet wide by 100 feet long
(WBWP 2009). The O&M building metal siding and roof would be painted a tan color to
reduce contrast with the surrounding landscape. Outdoor parking facilities, a loading area, a
turn-around area for larger vehicles, outdoor lighting, and a gated access with partial or full
perimeter fencing encompassing approximately 0.75 acre would make up the remainder of
the facility uses. The 8-foot-high chain-link fencing would also incorporate tan slats to screen
the fenced area. Native Juniper would be planted outside the fence around the periphery of
the O&M facility. Additional lighting at the O&M building would be limited to reduce
nighttime light pollution through the use of directed lighting, timers, and motion sensors. A
single locked access gate would be located at the entrance to the project site from Highway
A supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system would be used for the project to
collect operating and performance data from each wind turbine and the project as a whole,
and provide remote operation of the wind turbines. The wind turbines would be linked to a
central computer in the control room via a fiber optic network. Communication cables would
be buried in the same trenches used for power collection lines and follow the same above
ground power distribution lines described earlier. Communications between the substation
and O&M building would be by phone or radio.
The facilities associated with the Connected Actions in Deschutes County would be
accessible via a private gravel access road off of Highway 20 at milepost 32.25. From the
highway, 3.75 miles of this main access road traverses private land until it reaches the 3.9-
mile strip of BLM-managed lands in Deschutes County. The main access road resumes in
Crook County for a distance of 0.75 mile to the project substation. A majority of the main
access road on private lands follows an existing gravel road that would need to be upgraded
prior to construction of the WTGs. The main access road would be 24 feet wide during
construction and operation. Sections of main access road located on private lands would be
constructed and their shoulders revegetated to the same specifications as access road on
public land (see above).
From the project substation, individual WTGs would be accessed via a network of existing
and proposed gravel roads throughout the project area (see Figure 2-1). The “turbine access
roads” leading from the main access road to the WTGs would be graded and maintained to a
width of 24 to 40 feet for construction. Widths greater than 24 feet would be needed in
certain locations to accommodate the turning radius of the crane at curves or movement over
steeper slopes. Less than 0.5 mile of the turbine access roads would be located in existing
road corridors. After construction is completed, all turbine access road widths would be
reduced to 24 feet.
Speed and travel restrictions on roads constructed on private lands would be equivalent to
those implemented on the access road constructed on BLM-managed public lands, as
described above. Access to and from BLM-managed lands and private lands is also described
above. Longer range access routes to the project area would include Highway 97 into Bend,
Highway 26 into Prineville, Highway 20 from Bend to the Project site, and Highways 27 and
20 from Prineville to the project site. Larger turbine components would likely be shipped to
the Ports of Vancouver or Longview, Washington – the major ports of entry for wind turbine
components arriving in the region.
CONSTRUCTION OF PROPOSED AND CONNECTED ACTIONS
The construction phase would last approximately 6 to 10 months. Construction would be
primarily conducted during the dry-weather seasons when site access is safe, unrestricted due
to weather conditions, and soil erosion by water is minimized.
Construction activities would normally occur during daylight hours; however, some
construction activities may require extended working hours due to scheduling constraints, or
engineering requirements such as maintaining structural integrity of concrete pours. It is
estimated that the peak construction crew would include 50 to 100 people.
Before construction of the Proposed Action can begin, a site survey would be performed to
stake out the location of the roads and transmission line alignment. A geotechnical
investigation would be performed to identify subsurface conditions which would dictate the
design of the roads and transmission line.
Site Preparation and Road Construction
Heavy equipment would be used to clear the site, build the road, haul and lift materials, and
pull the transmission line. Typical equipment used for road construction includes excavators,
bulldozers, load graders, compactors, water trucks, dump trucks, forklifts, scrapers, trenchers,
line-up trucks, and pickup trucks.
Road construction would be performed in multiple passes, starting with site preparation and
followed by the rough grading and leveling of the roadway areas. Once rough grade is
achieved, base rock would be trucked in, spread, and compacted to create a road base. A
capping rock would then be spread over a 24-foot-wide portion of the road base and rollcompacted to finished grade.
Water bars, similar to speed bumps, would be cut into the road where needed to allow for
natural drainage of water over the road surface and to prevent road washout. This would be
done in accordance with a formal Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) for the
project. Stormwater controls, such as hay bales (certified weed-free) and diversion ditches in
some areas, would be used to control stormwater runoff during construction.
The project is located on open rangeland. Excess excavated rock that arises through grading
would be disposed of on private land in the project site at approved (and if appropriate,
permitted) disposal areas. Excess excavated soils would be segregated and used for habitat
restoration activities at the site. Larger excavated rocks would be disposed of at approved
sites or crushed and re-used on-site as backfill or roadway material. Placement of excess
rocks in jurisdictional waterways would only occur if permitted by appropriate state and
Transmission Line Installation
Overhead poles constructed as part of the Proposed Action would be sited along the access
road. The single, wooden pole overhead system would be constructed in conformance with
good utility practice, and the guidelines or requirements of the National Electric Safety Code,
the American National Standards Institute, and the Avian Power Line Interaction Committee.
The wooden overhead poles are first assembled and fitted with all of their cross-arms, cable
supports, and insulator hardware on the ground at each pole location. Holes for each pole
would then be excavated or drilled and the poles would be set in place using a small crane or
boom truck. Once the pole is set, clean fill would be compacted around the pole base
according to the engineer’s specifications. At locations with a significant change in direction
of the power line, a steel pole may be installed rather than a wooden pole to carry the extra line load.
Electrical tests on the power lines are performed by qualified engineers, electricians, and test
personnel to ensure that all electrical equipment is operating within industry and
manufacturer’s tolerances and that all such equipment has been installed in accordance with
Where necessary, safety signing would be posted around all turbines, transformers, and other
high voltage facilities, and along roads, in conformance with applicable state and federal
regulations. West Butte Wind is committed to the safety of all employees, contractors, and
visitors to the wind energy facility and would develop a safety policy and a detailed set of
guidelines for safety within the project. The policy would identify the chain of command for
enforcing guidelines, the actions to be taken to correct unsafe or potentially unsafe
conditions, and the penalties for safety violations.
Site Clean-up and Habitat Restoration
After construction is complete, West Butte Wind would remove construction equipment and
debris and restore disturbed areas to preconstruction conditions. Since project site restoration
generally consists of reseeding disturbed areas and earthwork, it is very weather and season
sensitive. Site restoration would follow a revegetation plan developed in consultation with
the BLM and other appropriate agencies. All temporarily disturbed areas would be re-seeded
with a mix of native plant species at the time of year that would best assure success (e.g.,
prior to the rainy season). The revegetation plan would specify the seed mix and vegetation
species suited to restoration activities based on the habitats being restored, and the methods
for seed application or planting (see Appendix B).
Construction clean-up may require the use of a motor grader, dump trucks, front-end loaders,
and light trucks for transportation of any waste materials.
Construction Compliance and Monitoring
West Butte Wind would implement a construction compliance and monitoring program. If
the BLM approves the requested ROW, compliance and monitoring would be requirements
of the authorization. An environmental compliance and monitoring program would ensure
that construction activities satisfy the environmental standards and design features described
in this EIS as well as the conditions required through any of the project’s federal, state, or
local permits. Copies of all applicable construction permits would be kept on-site. The lead
project construction personnel and managers would be required to read, follow, and be
responsible for all required compliance activities.
Prior to construction, an environmental monitor would be retained to train construction
personnel on avoidance of sensitive areas and to monitor construction activities to ensure
compliance with design features and permit conditions. The environmental monitor would be
responsible for ensuring that all construction permit requirements are adhered to, and that any
deficiencies are promptly corrected. The environmental monitor would ultimately report to
the project manager and would provide weekly reports on environmental problems reported
or discovered as well as corrective actions taken to resolve these problems.
The environmental compliance program would cover avoidance of sensitive areas during
construction, waste handling and storage, stormwater management, spill prevention and
control, and other components required by federal, state, and county regulations. Upon
identification of a non-compliance issue, the environmental monitor would work with the
responsible contractors or workers to correct the problem; if not corrected in a reasonable
period of time, the environmental monitor would issue a “stop work” request for that portion
of the work not in compliance with the project’s environmental and design standards.
As noted in Appendix B, West Butte Wind would implement a suite of design features and
project plans. The environmental monitor would be responsible for ensuring that project
construction activities comply with these commitments.
Before construction of facilities associated with the Connected Actions can begin, a site
survey would be performed to stake out the exact location of the WTGs, site roads, electrical
cables, access entryways from public roads and BLM lands, substation area, etc. Surveys
would be conducted using professional surveyor standards to ensure that project facilities and
construction activities are correctly located with respect to public and private property lines.
Once the survey is complete, a detailed geotechnical investigation would be performed to
identify subsurface conditions which would dictate much of the design of the roads,
foundations, underground trenching, and electrical grounding systems. Typically, the
geotechnical investigation involves a drill rig, which bores to the engineer’s required depths
(typically 8-inch diameter drill to 30-40 feet deep) and a backhoe to identify the subsurface
soil and rock types and strength properties by sampling and lab testing. Testing is also done
to measure the soil’s electrical properties to ensure proper grounding system design. A
geotechnical investigation is generally performed at each WTG location, at the substation
location, and at the O&M building location.
Design and Construction Specifications
Using all of the data gathered for the project, including geotechnical information,
environmental and climatic conditions, site topography, etc., West Butte Wind’s engineering
group would establish a set of construction specifications for the various aspects of the
project. The design specifications would be based on well proven and established sets of
construction standards set forth by the various industry practice groups such as the American
Concrete Institute, Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers, National Electric Code,
NFPA, and Construction Specifications Institute. The project engineering team would also
ensure that all aspects of the specifications, as well as the actual on-site construction, comply
with applicable federal, state, and local codes and good industry practices. This approach
ensures that the project would be designed and constructed to meet a minimum 20-year
Equipment and Water Requirements
Heavy equipment would be needed to clear the sites, build roads and WTG pads, haul and lift
materials, and pull power line. The heavy equipment would be the same as that described for
the construction of the Proposed Action above. In addition, specialized large cranes are also
used to erect the WTGs. Seven to ten truckloads of parts would be required per WTG. Thus,
approximately 280 to 400 trucks hauling WTG parts, each with a gross weight ranging
between 30,000 and 150,000 pounds, would travel to and from the project site. For 52
turbines, approximately 731 truck trips would also be necessary for delivering concrete, sand,
gravel, steel, bolts, and water for foundation construction. This equates to approximately 6
truck trips per day. After traveling on Highway 20 or 27, the trucks would enter the site from
Highway 20 and proceed to designated-areas where a crane would unload them.
Total water demand for the project’s construction activities is estimated to be 12.4 million
gallons over an eight-month period, with an average use of 51,600 gallons per day.
Construction water needs would be supplied by three existing state permitted wells located
on the West Butte Ranch (private lands in Crook County). The wells produce 60+ gallons per
minute (86,400 gallons per day). Up to 5,000 gallons of water per day may be drawn from
each well for commercial use without any further water rights or permits (ORS 537.545). Up
to 9,000 gallons of water per day would be necessary to control dust under certain conditions.
Water needed for concrete preparation is described under “Concrete Batch Plant” below.
West Butte Wind would obtain a Limited License from the Oregon State Water Resources
Department for any water to be used in excess of the permitted well capacity. West Butte
Wind would closely monitor water use and would purchase mitigation credits through the Deschutes River Conservancy to offset any impacts to water in the basin.
West Butte Wind would also consider using water or dust abatement chemicals for dust
suppression when construction requires movement of earth during wind conditions. The
chemicals used would be from naturally occurring substances such as magnesium chloride,
selected for its effectiveness in controlling fugitive dust, as well as minimizing potential
environmental impacts. Prior to the use of any chemicals for dust abatement, West Butte
Wind would confer with BLM’s authorized officer to obtain approval.
Temporary Construction Storage Areas
Two graveled, temporary storage areas about two acres in size are proposed on private land
in Crook County. Additionally, a two-acre graveled storage area would be located on private
land in Deschutes County. Both areas would be used for construction vehicle parking and
parts storage, and one would also be used for a temporary batch plant to mix concrete for the
turbine foundations. After construction, gravel would be removed and these areas would be
Concrete Batch Plant
Foundations for each WTG require several hundred yards of concrete using strength and mix
designs as required by the design engineer. The engineer generally requires placement of the
mix within 45 minutes of being made or “batched.” Because of the distances concrete trucks
may have to travel to each WTG foundation, and the quantities of concrete required, it would
be necessary to set up a concrete batch plant on the project site to meet construction needs.
The batch plant would be located at the temporary storage area located across the main road
from the substation location on private land in Crook County. The batch plant area must be
level and provide room for trucks to load and unload materials.
Gravel may be placed over the area to support the weight of equipment. Some sand and
aggregates would be obtained from within the project area, and the remaining materials
needed would be trucked into the site from outside local sources. No sand or aggregates
would be taken from BLM property.
The batch plant equipment would be powered by a diesel motor and materials would be
loaded by a front end loader. For each turbine, concrete foundation construction would use
150 cubic yards of concrete and slurry, which requires 30 gallons of water per cubic yard of
concrete. This equates to 4,500 gallons of water per concrete foundation, which totals
234,000 gallons of water for 52 turbines (0.7 acre feet). Water would be brought in by tanker
truck and stored in a portable construction site tank.
Cement, aggregate, sand, water, and admixtures would be mixed together in the batch plant
and then loaded into ready-mix trucks in the loading area. The concrete would then be
delivered throughout the site as needed.
The batch plant would include a washdown pit where water and solid material resulting from
washout of the concrete trucks are buried, or collected to be hauled off-site after construction
is completed. Water and solid material from concrete truck washdown at each turbine
foundation would be placed in a corner of the foundation excavation area for burial after the
concrete has dried.
After removal of the batch plant from the project site, the area would be returned to the
original condition by removing gravel, regrading, and reseeding as necessary.
West Butte Wind would utilize engineering practices that limit disturbance and related
impacts on the surrounding environment and land uses. Erosion control practices would be
- used in areas impacted by proposed construction and a project-specific SWPPP would be
- prepared and implemented to prevent off-site migration of contaminated stormwater or
- increased soil erosion.
- Project construction would be performed in several stages and would include the following main elements:
- site preparation and road construction;
- foundation construction;
- turbine assembly and erection;
- electrical collector system and transmission line installation;
- project substation construction; and,
- O&M facility construction.
Site Preparation and Road Construction
Construction activities would begin with site preparation, including the construction of
project site access entryways from public roads, rough grading of the roads, leveling of the
field construction site office parking area, and the installation of six to eight temporary site
office trailers. Temporary trailers may also be located at the temporary storage areas.
Temporary sanitation facilities would be available at the O&M facility location, described
Roads that are part of the Connected Action would be constructed in the same way as
described above for the Proposed Action. Excess soils and excavated rock would be managed
as for the Proposed Action.
Each WTG requires a concrete and steel reinforced foundation situated below ground, to
which the tower is anchored. The area required and the type of foundation necessary to
support the loads generated would be determined by site-specific geotechnical constraints,
wind patterns at the site, site access, material availability, and the type of WTG selected.
Commonly, foundations would be octagonal spread-footing designs that are about 60 feet in
diameter and 7 to 10 feet in depth. Two other possible foundation designs considered for this
project are a Patrick & Henderson Inc. (P&H) patented post tensioned foundation, or a rock
The P&H foundation is drilled and/or dug to approximately 19 to 33 feet deep, depending on
geotechnical conditions and loadings, and is approximately 18 feet in diameter. The
foundation is in the configuration of two concentric steel cylinders. The central core of the
smaller inner cylinder is filled with soil removed during excavation. The cavity between the
rings has bolts used to anchor the tower to the foundation and it is filled with concrete.
Bolting the tower to the foundation provides post-tensioning to the concrete.
A rock-anchor type foundation may be an alternative. Six to 20 holes, depending on
geotechnical data, are drilled up to 33 feet into the bedrock and steel anchors are epoxygrouted
in place. A reinforced concrete cap containing the anchor bolts is poured on the top
of the steel anchors to support the tower structure.
Any of the above foundation types may be used on any of the project WTGs. The selection
would be determined after completion of geotechnical studies. Manufacturer’s foundation
loads for the site, material availability, and site access are also issues which must be fully
analyzed to determine the best choice of foundation for each WTG.
Turbine Assembly and Erection
After the WTG foundations are completed and concrete has cured, turbine assembly can
begin. To construct each WTG, a flat area adjacent to the foundation must be established.
The cleared pad area is used to assemble wind turbine sections and host a construction crane,
which is used to hoist the turbine sections into place. Each pad may have unique
characteristics regarding size and construction in order to address site topography. Figure 2-3
illustrates a WTG crane pad and typical construction layout.
All WTG components would be delivered to the project site on flatbed transport trucks.
Components would be off-loaded at the individual turbine sites or possibly staged elsewhere
on the site before transport to the final location.
WTG erection is performed in multiple stages including: setting of the buss cabinet and
ground control panels on the foundation, erection of the tower (usually in three to four
sections), erection of the nacelle, assembly and erection of the rotor, connection and
termination of the internal cables, and inspection and testing of the electrical system prior to
energization. WTG assembly and erection mainly involves the use of large truck or track
mounted cranes, smaller rough terrain cranes, boom trucks, rough terrain fork-lifts for
loading and off-loading materials and equipment, and flat-bed and low-boy trucks for
transporting materials to the project site.
The cranes used in turbine assembly and tower erection would be trucked to the project site
in pieces. They would then be assembled on site in an area as close as possible to their first
required use. Cranes are then moved as assembled (“walked”) from one turbine location to
the next. “Walking” requires a 35- to 40-foot-wide “walking path” between the WTG
locations. These walking paths would generally follow the WTG access roads.
After construction, all assembly areas would be revegetated with native species appropriate
for the type of habitat being restored, except for a 12-foot area immediately around each
tower, which would be maintained for access and fire prevention.
Electrical Collector System and Transmission Line Installation
An underground or overhead electrical collector system would be constructed to connect the
WTGs to the project substation. The majority of the electrical collector system would be
underground. Underground electrical and communication cables would be placed in 3- to 5-
foot-wide and 3- to 5-foot-deep trenches, generally along the WTG access roads. Depending
on site conditions, trenches would be cut with a backhoe, trenching machine, or rock
trencher. Due to the rocky conditions at the project site, several inches of clean fill or
concrete slurry would be placed above and below the cables to prevent cable pinching. All
cables and trenches would be inspected before backfilling. Once the clean fill covers the
cables, the excavated material would be used to complete the backfilling. In areas where
solid rock is encountered close to the surface, blasting may be done, or a shallower trench
may be cut using rock cutting equipment. The cables would be covered with a concrete slurry
mix to protect them and to comply with code and engineering specifications. Excavated soil
and rock and larger excess excavated rocks that are not reused in backfilling the trenches
would be disposed of at an approved site within the project area.
Overhead pole lines would be used as part of the collector system to avoid trenching in areas
of extensive rock or across steep drainages. Additionally, all of the transmission line from the
project substation to the BPA switchyard would be constructed using overhead poles.
Overhead pole lines require a detailed field survey to determine exact pole locations. As with
the underground collector system, overhead poles would generally be routed along the main
or WTG access roads.
The sequence for assembling and constructing the wooden overhead poles for the Connected
Actions is the same as described above for the Proposed Action.
Construction of the substation and interconnection facilities would involve several stages of
work including, but not limited to, grading of the substation area, installing a ground mat,
constructing several foundations for the transformers, steel work, breakers, control houses,
and other outdoor equipment, erecting and placing the steel work and all outdoor equipment,
and completing the electrical work for all of the required terminations.
O&M Facility Construction
The O&M building would have a foundation footprint of approximately 50 by 100 feet.
During construction, the O&M facility area would be leveled and graded and would serve as
a central base of construction operations with portable toilets and up to eight temporary
office trailers in place during the construction phase of approximately eight months.
Any wastewater generated in association with temporary, portable sanitary facilities would
be periodically removed by a licensed hauler and brought to an existing municipal sewage
treatment facility. Temporary, portable sanitary facilities provided for construction crews
would be adequate to support expected on-site personnel and would be removed at
completion of construction activities.
A permanent septic system servicing the O&M facility would be constructed in accordance
with county and state standards.
Site Clean-up and Habitat Restoration
West Butte Wind would conduct the same site clean-up and habitat restoration activities for
the Connected Actions as described for the Proposed Action above.
Other Connected Action clean-up activities might include interior finishing of the O&M
building, landscaping around the O&M area, washing of towers, painting of scratches and
exposed bolts on WTGs, as well as other miscellaneous tasks that are part of normal
Construction Compliance and Monitoring
West Butte Wind would use the same construction compliance and monitoring procedures
for the Connected Actions as for the Proposed Action.
Energization and Commissioning
When installation of each WTG is complete, it would be inspected and checked for
mechanical, electrical, and control completion in accordance with the manufacturer’s
specifications before being released for start-up testing. A series of start-up procedures would
then be performed by the manufacturer’s technicians to check systems and commission each
WTG to produce power and convey it to the utility power grid. Commissioning is a process
requiring approximately 4 to 6 hours per turbine, depending on turbine type and crew size. It
would require approximately 1 to 2 months to commission all 52 WTGs. Final testing
involves mechanical, electrical, control, and communications inspections and tests to ensure
that all systems are working properly.
Electrical tests on the transformers, power lines, and substation are performed by qualified
engineers, electricians, and test personnel to ensure that all equipment is operating within
industry and manufacturer’s tolerances and has been installed in accordance with design
specifications. BPA would perform such inspections and tests on the interconnection
facilities under their jurisdiction, including their switchyard facility, prior to energizing.
Where necessary, safety signing would be posted around all turbines, transformers, and other
high voltage facilities, and along roads, in conformance with applicable state and federal
Temporary and Permanent Ground Disturbance
The Project Area encompasses about 9 square miles. Table 2.2-1 summarizes the acreage of temporary and permanent disturbances associated with Alternative 1. This acreage was calculated based on Project design information provided by West Butte Wind or estimates based on industry wide practices.
Table 2.2-1. Removed for Example
OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE OF PROPOSED AND CONNECTED ACTIONS
Operation of the access road and transmission line constructed as part of the Proposed Action
would be concurrent to, and necessary for, operation of the Connected Actions.
Roads and Rights-of-Way
To ensure access for maintenance and operation of the Connected Actions, the road located
in the BLM ROW would be subject to a periodic servicing plan. Snow removal would be
required on higher elevations in the project area. The road would be maintained to ensure the
design, safety, and environmental (stormwater and erosion control for example) requirements
are met during the life of the project. Maintenance activities could include, as appropriate and
needed: periodic grading and compacting of the road surface, maintenance of cut and fill
slopes or culverts, grade separations and engineered drainage area maintenance, or
replacement of materials such as rip-rap used to prevent soil erosion.
During operation of the facilities located on private and BLM-managed public land, West
Butte Wind would undertake ongoing coordination to minimize potential conflicts with
current and future uses of these lands.
Operating the Proposed Action transmission line would be subject to the same requirements
as the operating plan for the Connected Actions. The project operating plan includes a 6-
month routine of electrical industry standard inspections and maintenance of the electrical
transmission facilities. Electrical equipment such as breakers, relays, and transformers
generally require weekly visual inspection, which does not affect overall availability, and
testing or calibration every 1-3 years which may force outages. To the extent practical, the
short-term off-line routine maintenance procedures are coordinated with periods of little or
no generation by the wind farm to minimize the impact to the amount of overall project
Compliance and Monitoring
Design features established for the Proposed Action would be maintained and implemented
throughout the operational phase.
Operations and Maintenance Facility
Approximately 8 to10 permanent employees would staff the O&M facility and supervise
operations and maintenance of the West Butte Wind Power Project. Maintenance supplies
and spare components would be stored inside the O&M facility. Water for the O&M facility
operations would be obtained from one of the existing state permitted wells on private
Project operation is controlled by a complex, integrated, automatic control system (SCADA)
capable of monitoring all operational parameters and starting and stopping each WTG.
Within the O&M facility, a control room would enable staff to remotely troubleshoot WTG
faults, manually start and stop each wind turbine as necessary, and monitor the operation of
the project 24 hours a day. Although the project may not be staffed 24 hours a day,
operations can be monitored and controlled from a remote control center from which
personnel can be dispatched to the site.
The project operating plan includes a planned outage cycle that consists of WTG inspections
and maintenance after the first two months of operation, a break-in diagnostic inspection, and
subsequent servicing every six months. The six-month service routines generally take each
WTG offline for just one day. The six-month routines are very rigorous and consist of
inspections and testing of all safety systems, inspection of wear-and-tear components such as
seals, bearings, bushings, etc., lubrication of the mechanical systems, electronic diagnostics
on the control systems, pre-tension verification of mechanical fasteners, and overall
inspection of the structural components. Blades are inspected and, if heavily soiled, rinsed
once per year to maintain overall aerodynamic efficiency. Electrical equipment such as
breakers, relays, transformers, etc. generally require weekly visual inspection, which does not
affect overall availability, and testing or calibration every 1-3 years, which may force
outages. To the extent practical, the short-term off-line routine maintenance procedures are
coordinated with periods of little or no generation to minimize the impact to the amount of
In any one day, facility maintenance technicians would be working on only a few of the
turbines at a time. Equipment needed for maintenance would be similar to that used during
construction, i.e. trucks to move around the site, and hand tools. In rare occasions, if a
sizeable component must be removed or replaced, a specialized crane may need to be
brought on-site to conduct the needed repairs. Noise emissions from maintenance activities
would therefore be related to on-site vehicles and hand tool use. Once or twice a year grading
equipment would be brought on the site to maintain the access roads. The noise associated
with road maintenance would be similar to that during construction but for a much shorter
period of time.
Roads and Rights-of-Way
Maintenance of main and turbine access roads associated with the Connected would be the
same as those described above for access roads that are part of the Proposed Action. Under
rare circumstances, when a large crane is needed for turbine component maintenance, a 40-
to 60-foot-long section of a turbine access road may need to be widened from 24 to 40 feet to
accommodate temporary crane installation. After the maintenance activities are completed,
the road width would be returned to 24 feet and the disturbed areas would be revegetated in a
manner similar to the habitat restoration activities described above. During operation, access
to the Connected Action facilities from Highway 20 would be through a locked gate (also
limiting access to the Project’s main access road that crosses BLM-managed lands).
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION AND CONSERVATION OFFSETS FOR PROPOSED AND CONNECTED ACTIONS
West Butte Wind is currently working with a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to
develop a wildlife mitigation plan for the project. The TAC consists of representatives from
ODFW, USFWS, Oregon Natural Desert Association, Crook County, Oregon, State
Extension Office, and private property owners at the wind farm location. Based on
discussions with the TAC, West Butte Wind proposes to include the habitat enhancements or
offsets listed below that would be incorporated into the project. The TAC and its decisions
are not subject to BLM control, and the choice of compensatory mitigation actions to be
implemented would occur after issuance of the Final EIS.
- West Butte Wind would establish conservation easements to permanently protect wildlife habitat from further development in the immediate vicinity of the proposed wind farm. The area set aside in conservation easements would be based on a postconstruction assessment of the actual areas and habitat types temporarily and permanently disturbed by the project. For areas permanently disturbed by the project, conservation easements would be established at a 2 to 1 ratio (i.e., 2 acres of habit protected for each acre of permanent habitat disturbance). For areas temporarily disturbed during construction, conservation easements would be established at a 1 to 1 ratio. Final easement locations and specific easement language would be developed in consultation with the landowner, West Butte Wind, and the appropriate government agencies.
- To enhance sage grouse habitat, West Butte Wind would develop and implement a Juniper Tree Management Program for the project area. The plan would follow ODFW guidelines found in its Greater Sage Grouse Conservation Assessment and Strategies document (Hagen 2005). West Butte Wind would develop this plan, which may include reseeding in certain areas, in consultation with the ODFW.
- If the results of a 5-year post-construction monitoring study indicate that there is no sage grouse breeding activity occurring within the Project Area, West Butte Wind would contribute $50,000 per year for five years to be used for sage grouse habitat enhancement or easements protecting leks in central Oregon.
- West Butte Wind would construct at least four wildlife water stations on private land across the project area.
At the end of the project lifetime West Butte Wind would initiate project decommissioning.
The activities associated with decommissioning are described below. The BLM will only
have control over the decommissioning actions conducted on BLM-administered public land.
The design life of the Proposed Action is concurrent with the design life of the Connected
Actions. As described below, the Proposed Action would therefore have an initial expected
lifetime of 20 years, which could be extended to 30 years or more. At the end of its useful
life, the Proposed Action would either undergo renovation to support a repowering of the
Connected Actions, or decommissioning.
If West Butte Wind decides to repower the Project, it would request renewal or extension of
the ROW granted by BLM. If BLM renews or extends the ROW authorization the roads
would continue to be used without any changes If BLM terminates the ROW, the project
would proceed to decommissioning.
If West Butte Wind decides to decommission the wind farm, the Proposed Action would also
be decommissioned. The short-term goal of reclamation would be to stabilize disturbed areas
as rapidly as possible, thereby protecting sites and adjacent undisturbed areas from
degradation. The long-term goal would be to return the land to approximate pre-disturbance
conditions. The following actions would be expected to be implemented as part of
decommissioning of the Proposed Action:
- Prior to the termination of the ROW authorization, a decommissioning plan would be developed by West Butte Wind and approved by the BLM. The decommissioning plan would include a site reclamation plan and monitoring program. This plan would identify and discuss the proposed decommissioning activities and how they would comply with the applicable regulatory requirements
- All management plans, design features, and stipulations developed for the construction phase would be applied to similar activities during the decommissioning phase.
- All structures associated with the Proposed Action would be dismantled and removed from the site. This would include all transmission structures and equipment.
- The access road constructed as part of the Proposed Action would be reclaimed and reseeded to its original use, unless the public/BLM wishes to use it for other purposes.
- Topsoil from all decommissioning activities would be salvaged and reapplied during final reclamation. If additional topsoil is necessary, it would be imported from private property.
- All areas of disturbed soil would be reclaimed using weed-free native shrubs, grasses, and forbs, in accordance with BLM requirements.
- The vegetation cover, composition, and diversity would be restored to approximate predisturbance conditions.
The design life of the wind energy facilities making up the Connected Actions is generally 20
years. However, assuming that there is future demand for the electricity generated by the
project, old or worn components could be replaced or upgraded. As such, the operation life
could be extended to 30 or more years (note that West Butte Wind has established an
agreement with the private landowner to operate the project for 30 years). As noted above,
West Butte Wind would make the decision to decommission or repower the project. The
BLM would not have control over decommissioning activities conducted by West Butte
Wind on privately owned land.
If decommissioned, all structures and equipment at the project site would be dismantled and
removed, and the land surface would be restored as close to the original condition as
practical. Reclamation would be completed on all disturbed areas to comply with county
policies. The short-term goal of reclamation would be to stabilize disturbed areas as rapidly
as possible, thereby protecting sites and adjacent undisturbed areas from degradation. The
long-term goal would be to return the land to approximate predisturbance conditions.
Distribution lines and structures would also be dismantled and removed.
As described above, West Butte Wind would prepare a decommissioning and reclamation
plan. The following Connected Action facilities would be removed at decommissioning:
- Nacelles, blades and towers would be removed (some roads may need to be widened for equipment access during removal if equipment is to be reused by another owner, but may not be if units are fully “scrapped” out).
- Foundations would be removed to a level 3 feet below the existing grade. Concrete within 3 feet of the surface would be jack-hammered out and bolts cut off, and the material would be disposed of at an approved location.
- Overhead poles and electric lines would be completely removed.
- If the substation is utility owned, it may remain to be used as part of the utility service for other projects or businesses. This would be a utility decision. A project ownedsubstation would be removed at decommissioning.
- Underground collection lines would be cut off 3 feet below grade. The buried cable would be left in place.
- Roads would be reclaimed and reseeded to their original use, unless the private landowner wishes to use them for ranching or other purposes.
At the end of the projected life of the wind farm and expiration of leases, leases that were not
renewed would require full decommissioning of that portion of the project as described
above. If a portion of the project were to remain in operation and some new leases
negotiated, some units may have to be decommissioned and collection lines rerouted if new
ROW cannot be negotiated.