Am I missing something?
Below is a more detailed response to a recent curious minds inquiry from the Times- News. We welcome your questions. If you have another question you’d like answered, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am very in favor for renewable energy and wind turbines being greener than fossil fuels and saving our planet; but at what expense to Idahoans? If everything I have read about Lava Ridge is even remotely accurate then we will lose federal lands costing Idahoans money to sell to California all for a non Idahoans profit and benefit? Isn’t there a better location where there isn’t Idaho residents, homes, cattle grazing, wildlife: deer, elk, the endangered grouse, and a clear skyline? There are thousands of acres of desert in Nevada in between the northern Nevada cattle country and south Nevada-Las Vegas which is closer to southern California than Idaho. Am I missing something?”
Unfortunately, this curious mind is missing the whole story. Rumors spread quicker than facts, and the desire for quick answers does not align with the lengthy, detailed analyses required to evaluate these projects.
Federal and state agencies are still analyzing the project’s potential environmental impacts. These potential impacts will be disclosed in a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is still months away. It is premature to judge the possible effects before the analyses are complete.
Lava Ridge will not cause Idaho to lose federal lands or cost Idahoans any money. The Bureau of Land Management manages the lands that encompass the project for multiple use on behalf of all Americans. Multiple-use lands support many public interests, both casual and commercial. These can include private citizen activities such as hunting, wildlife viewing, ATV riding, and camping, as well as business activities such as livestock grazing, mineral extraction, and the production and transmission of energy. Lava Ridge aligns with and will maintain this multiple use of the federal lands while generating substantial tax revenue and well-paid jobs for Idaho. Energy from the project can serve customers in Idaho and across the West.
Creating additional sources of domestic, clean, affordable energy has never been more important to giving America control of our power supply – a win for consumers’ power bills and local economies.
To keep energy costs down for consumers, Idaho currently participates in exchanging energy with other states through the Western Energy Imbalance market, allowing power to be purchased and sold in and out of state lines. Siting this project in Idaho creates another opportunity for homegrown energy to be used locally or exported out of state so counties like Lincoln, Jerome, Minidoka, and Twin Falls can benefit from the substantial annual tax revenues.
When evaluating areas for wind project potential, a myriad of items are reviewed, including wind resources, environmental constraints, economic feasibility, availability of transmission capacity and interconnection facilities, land use, and permitting requirements.
The project area is surrounded on three sides by private development, bisected by multiple high-voltage transmission lines, dominated by non-native vegetation, and allows for continued multiple uses of the land while bringing an incredible economic opportunity to Idaho.
The following five items were critical determinations in siting the two MVE proposed wind projects:
- Commercial wind data. Before a wind project can be considered, the area needs to show wind data that is both consistent and sustainable. MVE has multiple years of wind data for Lava Ridge and Salmon Falls sites that show both areas are sustainable for the long-term with the advancement of wind turbine technology.
- Proximity to existing and proposed transmission lines. Energy projects need a viable pathway to connect with customers. MVE’s projects are adjacent to established transmission corridors offering connections to power markets in Idaho and across the West.
- Compatible land use. Unlike other forms of renewable energy, wind energy can coexist with existing land uses like grazing and recreation, allowing multiple use of the project areas. This project enables the ranchers in the project areas to continue benefiting from public lands for their operations and will not close the areas to hunters or recreational users.
- A general absence of environmental resources of concern is also critical to siting energy projects. The Lava Ridge and Salmon Falls project areas are not in their native state due to fires, past land use, and previously disturbed habitat. MVE’s projects are also outside of prime sage grouse habitats, something that precludes these types of projects in many other areas of Idaho and Nevada.
- Airspace considerations. Established civilian and military airspace restrictions are evaluated prior to developing wind energy projects. These restrictions help shape project location, layout, and turbine heights. MVE’s projects can be constructed while maintaining the safety and efficiency of the airspace. FAA will undertake a formal review process during the development phase.
MVE is committed to creating projects that fit well within the communities goals and objectives. These projects will bring sustainable, well-paid career opportunities, substantial annual tax revenue for Idaho and Magic Valley counties, school, recreation, and highway districts, and more than 800 million in economic output during the construction phase for both projects.