Feedback negative for proposed windfarm

April 16, 2018 GMT

NEEDLES — Two scoping meetings in and the feedback remained negative regarding a proposed wind farm by Crescent Peak Renewables, LLC. Meetings were held in Searchlight and Needles, April 9 and 10 respectively. Two additional meetings were held April 11 and 12, in Las Vegas and Henderson respectively.

In November 2015, Crescent Peak Renewables, LLC, submitted an application to the Bureau of Land Management requesting authorization to construct, operate, maintain and terminate an up to 500-megawatt wind energy generation facility.

Crescent Peak is an acquisition made by Eolous North America Inc., a subsidiary of Eolus. Eolus is a company based in Sweden. Eolous North America Inc. also acquired a second wind power project in Storey and Washoe counties and Carson City in 2015.

Eric Jacobson, of Eolus North America/Crescent Peak Wind, said the purpose of the meeting was to share some information about the project.

The project is about 10 miles west of Searchlight, Jacobson said. There are four study areas labeled NV-1, NV-2, NV-3 and NV-4. From the most northern part of the project to the southern, it’s about 22 miles, he said.

Jacobson said the company proposes to generate up to 500 MW of wind energy. The maps outline different areas that will be looked at throughout the studies, including areas of environmental concern, and areas that have cultural, visual and other resources.

Various conservation areas are near the study sites, including the Sloan Canyon Conservation Area, but which Jacobson said is quite a ways from the site. He also mentioned the neighboring communities of Searchlight, Cal-Nev-Ari, Nipton, Primm, Palm Gardens and Jean.

Some of the cultural resources include the Walking Box Ranch, a historic site

where silent film stars Rex Bell and Clara Bow lived in the 1930s, and Spirit Mountain, which has tribal cultural and historical significance.

The maps included showing where mine claims and other private property exist, and Jacobson said those are areas the project would avoid.

South McCullough Forest area is north of the NV-2 study area and Wee Thump Joshua Tree is situated so it’s next to NV-2 and north of NV-1. The Castle Mountain National Monument would border NV-4.

Jacobson said the estimated disturbed area is about 750 acres. While there are some big acreage numbers, if the project is permitted, the actual disturbed areas would be less than 3 percent, he added.

Wind energy production isn’t restricted to daylight hours like solar is, Jacboson said.

“This particular site is well suited to complement solar due to the time of delivery pattern of the wind power because the wind blows a lot out there,” he added.

Some studies already have begun, with reports pending and more studies scheduled to begin this month, Jacobson said. Those studies include cultural, biological — including endangered species — tribal consultations and visual.

If approved, the project would produce enough clean energy to meet annual energy needs for 75,000 to 150,000 homes, Jacobson said. It would provide millions in sales and property tax revenue annually, he continued.

He said the local communities would benefit from the increased construction activities.

The benefits may have been outlined, but the public provided an array of commentary indicating the negative outweighs any benefits.

Several tribal members from the Chemehuevi and Fort Mojave expressed concerns about the impact the wind farms could have on historic and cultural resources in those areas. They also expressed concerns about wanting to be included in any process related to the project.

Additional concerns focused on potential ecological impacts, including possibly harming various birds such as eagles. Some concerns were related to how naturally occurring asbestos has been found in those areas, with commenters questioning if turbines could disturb the desert soil, kicking up the asbestos.

As of those two meetings, there didn’t appear to be any feedback indicating support for the project.

The Environmental Impact Statement timeline indicates the project is still early. Public scoping is essentially step two in a seven-step process.

Public comment can be made through June 13. Anyone who didn’t attend the meetings still can provide input in the following ways: Send an email to blm_nv_sndo_crescentpeak@blm.gov or fax to 702-515-5023; The question hotline is 702-515-5136.; Comments also may be mailed to: BLM Las Vegas Field Office, Las Vegas Field Office Manager, 4701 N. Torrey Pines Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89130.

To review documents and get updated information go to https://go.usa.gov/xnbwe.