Regulators Closer to Wrapping Up Review of Wind Project in Idaho

May 8, 2023 by Dan McCue
Regulators Closer to Wrapping Up Review of Wind Project in Idaho
(Bureau of Land Management photo)

WASHINGTON — Regulators are a step closer to making their final determinations regarding a closely-watched wind project proposal in Idaho.

Magic Valley Energy LLC — an affiliate of New York-based energy infrastructure company LS Power — is seeking the Bureau of Land Management’s permission to build the large project on approximately 197,474 acres of public and private land.

If the proposal moves forward, the Lava Ridge Wind Project would consist of 400 wind turbines and stand about 740 feet high. Arrayed around it would be substations and maintenance facilities, power lines and battery storage facilities. 

In its proposal Magic Valley Energy said it chose the site, which is located about 25 miles northeast of Twin Falls, Idaho, due to the “quality of the wind resource in the area, the power markets accessible by existing and planned transmission lines, the availability of suitable land and the absence of land use constraints such as wildlife management areas, areas of critical environmental concern, designated wilderness areas [and] wilderness study areas.”

A public comment period on the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project ended on April 20, but the BLM extended that deadline an additional 30 days.

Bureau officials said as of last week, they’d received nearly 11,000 comments on the wind farm.

So far, the agency has identified two alternatives that it says might be preferable to the original proposal as they would minimize impacts to the Minidoka National Historic Site, the Wilson Butte Cave and residents living in the area.

The first alternative would scale the project area back to 146,300 acres and 378 turbines; the second alternative would reduce the project’s footprint further, bringing it down to 122,400 acres and 270 turbines.

The agency expects to complete its final environmental impact statement by late fall or early winter.

Idaho Power, the state’s largest electricity provider company, has adopted a goal of providing 100% green energy by 2045. According to the impact statement, Idaho Power would need over 2,000 megawatts by 2045 to reach that goal with renewable energy.

The proposed wind project would generate more than 1,000 megawatts of the energy needed to reach that goal.

In addition, Magic Valley Energy has said the proposed project could provide as much as $3 million a year in tax revenues to local governments depending on the project’s final size and configuration.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

 

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  • Bureau of Land Management
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