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BLM Seeking Comments on Salt Wells Geothermal Energy Projects Draft EIS

By ThisIsReno

BLM NEWS RELEASE

CARSON CITY — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Carson City District-Stillwater Field Office, is seeking comments on a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) providing the environmental analysis of three new projects proposed by Sierra Pacific Power Company, Ormat Technologies, Inc., and Vulcan Power Company in the Salt Wells area near Fallon, Nevada.  A notice of availability of the draft EIS was published in the Federal Register on January 28, 2011, which opens a 60-day public comment period with comments being accepted through March 29.

BLM and the proponents have scheduled a presentation of draft EIS to the Churchill County Commissioners at 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday, February 16 at the Churchill County Commission Chambers, 155 North Taylor Street, Fallon, Nevada.  The presentation will be followed that evening by a public open house meeting from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the commission chambers.

A wealth of geothermal resources is making Churchill County one of the Nevada’s fastest growing areas for geothermal power development.  Together, the three proposed projects, referred to as the Salt Wells Energy Projects, could provide up to five commercial geothermal power plants with a maximum total net output of 160 megawatts (MW), which is enough to power approximately 48,000 homes. In addition, the Salt Wells Energy Projects would include new 22-mile transmission line with associated facilities. The project area encompassed by the three proposals covers approximately 24,000 acres located about 15 miles southeast of Fallon and could require approximately 70 wells (32 previously approved) with associated pipelines. The proposed development has the potential to result in increased employment opportunities and local government tax revenues.

BLM has produced a draft EIS analyzing the environmental, social, and economic impacts of the proposed projects. The proposed development would build the infrastructure necessary to produce and transmit geothermal energy and provide reliable electric capacity to consumers in the Fallon area. The proposed facilities would be sited on a combination of private property and public land managed by the BLM and the United States Bureau of Reclamation.

If approved, the Salt Wells Energy Projects would provide new renewable energy sources and contribute to meeting numerous state and federal laws supporting the development of renewable energy. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 encourages the development of renewable and alternative energy resources, including geothermal energy, as part of an overall strategy to develop a diverse portfolio of domestic energy supplies. Furthermore, the Nevada Renewable Portfolio Standard, a state law, requires 25 percent of electricity be produced from renewable sources by 2025.

The BLM has determined measures to limit the impacts to the environment and surrounding communities. Issues of most concern to the public have been related to water supplies for cooling, bird species that use the Carson Lake area, and the interests of Fallon NAS in avoiding community encroachment and interference with flight operations.  During construction and operation of the project, the companies would be required to abide by the BLM’s Geothermal Leasing Stipulations and Conditions of Approval. In addition, all three companies would be required to develop a plan to outline the specifics of how to construct, operate, and maintain their project and each company would have to implement Best Management Practices as outlined in the EIS.

The public, cooperating agencies (Navy, Reclamation, State of Nevada, NDOW, Churchill County, City of Fallon, and the proponents SPPC, Ormat and Vulcan) and area Native American tribes are invited to review the draft document during the 60-day public comment period.  Detailed information on public involvement opportunities, including public meetings and the public comment deadline, will be published on the project web site at: http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/carson_city_field/blm_information/nepa/salt_wells_energy.html

Written comments may be submitted through March 29 by any of the following methods:  e-mail: [email protected], Fax: 775-885-6147, mail or other delivery service: BLM Carson City District, Stillwater Field Office, Attn: Salt Wells Energy Projects, 5665 Morgan Mill Road, Carson City, NV 89701

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