NEEDLES — If the second two meetings went like the first two, support for the Crescent Peak Wind project is scarce. A total of four scoping meetings were held April 9-12 in Searchlight, Needles, Las Vegas and Henderson as part of the environmental impact statement process.
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 in November 2015.
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 also acquired a second wind power project in the Storey, Washoe and Carson City Counties in 2015.
The project study area is 22 miles long and five miles wide. It covers 32,531 acres of public land. It is 10 miles west of Searchlight. The study area is broken into four study areas labeled NV-1, NV-2, NV-3 and NV-4.
Based on information handed out at the meeting in Needles, the wind turbines being considered have a capacity of between 2.0 and 4.5 megawatt per wind turbine and there could be up to 248 turbines.
The turbines would have a three-blade upwind configuration and would be placed in rows according to industry recommendations. The information packet indicated the rows would optimize energy production but minimize land disturbance.
Several factors would go into the design of the turbines including terrain and required mitigation factors. Turbines would operate as independent generators.
Eric Jacobson, of Eolus North America/Crescent Peak Wind, said the purpose of the meeting was to share some information of the project. He described elements of the project.
He discussed a few different maps showing where various public lands are located in relation to the study areas including Wee Thump Joshua Tree, Castle Mountain National Monument, Sloan Canyon Conservation Area and the Walking Box Ranch. He also pointed out neighboring communities of Searchlight, Nipton, Jean, Primm, Cal-Nev-Ari and Palm Gardens.
Jacobson said the estimated disturbed area is at about 750 acres. While there are some big acreage numbers, if the project is permitted, the actual disturbed areas would be less than three percent, he added.
Wind energy production isn’t restricted to daylight hours like solar is, Jacobson 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 have begun already with reports pending and more studies are 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 of 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.
Despite the benefits being laid out, the public commentary seemed to all go in the other direction.
Linda Otero, Fort Mojave Indian Tribe member, said she’s the director of the Aha Macav Culture Society. Aha Macav means “People of the River,” and understanding they are of this place, meaning Spirit Mountain, is one thing. The tribe’s spiritual connection and more to this location needs to be considered, she added.
The tribe’s way of life is attached to all things — the animals, the land, the river, etc., Otero said. The environmental assessment only covers so much and is limited, she continued.
Chris Clarke, California Desert Program Manager from the National Parks Conservation Association and former Nipton resident, said the association has a strong interest in the conservation lands in the area. The land outside of those national park boundaries are not included because of the state line being drawn but ecologically it’s the same place, he added.
Why this proposal is even being entertained is beyond his understanding, Clarke said. Nipton is one of the best places for eagles he’s ever seen, he continued. The association will be providing written comment about concerns related to conservation efforts.
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 and the turbines could disturb the desert soil, kicking up the asbestos.
Public comment regarding the project can be made through June 13. Anyone who didn’t attend the meetings can still provide input in assorted ways. Send email to email@example.com or fax to 702-515-5023. The question hotline is 702-515-5136. Comments may also be mailed to: BLM Las Vegas Field Office, Las Vegas Field Office Manager, 4701 N. Torrey Pines Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89130.
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