Magic Valley Energy FAQs

How much water will each project take during construction?
Magic Valley Energy is mindful of the drought conditions in southern Idaho and the importance of water resources for the surrounding communities. Thankfully, wind energy construction and operation have minimal water requirements, with the construction phase requiring more usage than the operations phase. During the planned two-year construction phase for the Lava Ridge Wind Project, water use is anticipated to be up to 150 acre-feet annually. This amount of water is roughly equivalent to the water usage required to irrigate 80 acres of farm ground. Water will primarily be used for civil construction tasks (development of roads and work areas, dust abatement, and reclamation) and to support the batching of concrete for foundations.

The water required to support construction activities will not add to the cumulative use of water in the region. The project’s water will draw from previously permitted sources that are already allocated for use. MVE will be leasing water through the Water Supply Bank, acquiring existing water rights, or purchasing water from commercial sources. This is not a new incremental use. We will acquire water from a willing seller that the seller or another leasee would otherwise use. Water rights that are leased or acquired will have their points of diversion transferred to the new wells proposed within the project area to minimize the need to truck water into the project area. Water modeling analyses show that drawing water from the new project wells will have a negligible impact on surrounding wells.

Wind energy is an excellent investment in regions sensitive to water supply constraints. These facilities can be constructed and operated sustainably for the long term without concerns that further drought conditions will threaten their ability to provide jobs and contribute to the local economy.
How much water will the projects continue to use?
Once in operation, the project will have minimal ongoing water requirements. Water usage would be below the de minimis threshold established under Idaho water law.

Because of the low water usage rates, estimates suggest that by 2050 wind energy could save roughly 100,000 acre-feet of water nationwide that would have otherwise been used by traditional power generators.

(Source: https://www.energy.gov/eere/wind/wind-vision)
What will the vibrations from the turbines do to the aquifer?
Groundwater depths in the project areas average more than 200 feet below ground surface. Due to the large separation distance between project components and typical aquifer depths, no impacts are expected to groundwater aquifers.
Can we still recreate and hunt in those areas?
Public lands will remain open for recreation and hunting after construction is complete. Wind turbines can coexist easily with public land use, grazing, and recreation.
Do the local communities that host wind turbines receive payment?
Absolutely. Local communities will receive substantial tax revenue and economic benefits from the wind projects. These economic benefits will be realized for the life of the project. During the operations phase of the Lava Ridge Wind Project, an estimated $4 million in new tax revenue will flow annually into the surrounding tax districts, which include local highway districts, schools, fire districts, county general funds, and other local services. You can see an estimated economic impact report for Lava Ridge here and one for Salmon Falls here.
Why do some of the turbines have lights on the top of them? Will this turn into a “red-light” district?
MVE is proposing a new technology that only activates the lights when aircraft are detected within a defined radius of the project at night. This is expected to reduce the time lights are on by more than 90 percent. The red lights on top of turbines are required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to notify nearby aircraft of the project area.
How loud is a turbine?
Typically, two people can carry on a conversation at normal voice levels even while standing directly below a turbine. Modern turbines usually produce a noise of 40-45 decibels (dB) at 300 meters (984 feet) away. A residential refrigerator typically makes a noise of around 40 dB. A 2019 nationwide study showed that of 1700 people living within 5 miles of a wind farm, the vast majority of them did not hear any sound being emitted from the nearby wind farm.

Source: Hoen et al. 2019. National Survey of Attitudes of Wind Power Project Neighbors: Summary of Results https://emp.lbl.gov/sites/default/files/wind_neighbors_survey_summary_nov2019v5_final.pdf
How much energy does one turbine provide?
While estimates depend on the turbine model installed and overall project efficiency, a reasonable range of homes powered by a single turbine is 900-1500.
What happens to the electricity supply when the wind isn’t blowing? Does wind need to be backed up by other sources of power generation?
When the wind is blowing, the turbines provide power to the electrical grid along with all other systems, including hydroelectric, coal, solar, and natural gas power generating facilities. When the wind is not blowing, other providers may continue to produce electricity, and battery storage can help extend the power supplied from the wind project.
What happens to the grazing/ranching operations during construction and once the project is in operation?
MVE has developed a plan that will enable most grazing operations to continue within the project area during the construction phase. AUMs unavailable during the construction period will be offset by alternative forage provided by MVE on other rangeland, private property, feedlot space, or other accommodations established by the affected permittees and MVE. The range improvements installed by MVE will benefit the long-term management of the grazing allotments.

Other wind projects across the US have shown wind projects and grazing operations can mutually benefit from the same land with close coordination from all stakeholders. It’s important to us at MVE that these projects do not cause financial loss or undue stress.
What kind of subsidies will LS Power receive for these projects?
Wind energy projects are eligible for production tax credits. These tax credits are made available to incentivize private investment in wind projects. Production tax credits are not direct payments from the federal government to wind companies. These credits are similar to a coupon that reduces the taxes owed to the federal government.

The reduced tax burden allows the wind project to sell its energy at a lower price, directly benefiting electric customers. It is important to note that these wind projects are economically viable without tax credits; however, the price of the energy for electric consumers would be higher.
Where will the power go?
The need for renewable energy throughout the West is substantial. Electric utilities and load-serving entities in Idaho and the western United States can purchase power from these wind projects. Idaho Power’s December 2021 integrated resource plan states that over 3,700 MW of new non-carbon emitting resources consisting of wind, solar, and storage technologies are needed to meet energy demand and achieve 100% clean energy by 2045.

Idaho has an incredible export economy – beef, dairy, potatoes, and other commodities produced in the state can be consumed locally or sold elsewhere. Using our wind resources to create energy allows Idaho to benefit from another export product. The tax revenues from this project will go to local communities, schools, fire departments, and recreation districts.
Will the area be closed off during construction?
Public lands will remain open for public use during the construction phase. There will be instances when certain construction activities such as blasting, crane operations, or wide transport loads may temporarily restrict access for the safety of the public and construction workers. Any activities or work areas that pose hazards to the public will be appropriately delineated with temporary flagging, fencing, or signage or monitored by project personnel.
Will this lower my power bill?
It’s possible. Wind energy is cost-competitive. The benefits to a consumer’s electric rates will depend on which utility purchases the power and the outcome of rate-setting proceedings at the state’s Public Utilities Commission. Idaho has a high renewable energy goal, and these projects are poised to help meet that need.
How does this impact birds/bats/eagles/deer, etc?
MVE will plan and implement all aspects of the project with the intent of minimizing effects to environmental resources. Project biologists have been in the field for more than two years gathering environmental data to inform our efforts in creating an environmentally friendly project design that includes avoiding the siting of wind turbines in environmentally sensitive areas and scheduling construction to avoid disturbing wildlife during crucial times of the year.

The Bureau of Land Management is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that will include input from cooperating wildlife agencies such as the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The EIS process, which includes multiple opportunities for public review and input, will evaluate the project’s effects to wildlife in the project area and will specify measures to avoid, minimize, or mitigate potential effects to environmental resources from construction and operation of the Project.
What is an EIS process and how does it work?
The BLM will be assessing the potential impacts of the project area in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This process characterizes the area where the project is proposed, identifies resources that may experience impacts, completes an evaluation of those impacts, and provides options for addressing concerns including project alternatives, design features, avoidance, minimization, mitigation, and best management practices.

More information on the EIS can be found here : NEPA | Bureau of Land Management (blm.gov)
What’s the deconstruction plan?
MVE’s decommissioning plan prioritizes the reuse, recycling, and scrap value of decommissioned of project components to reduce the amount of material that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Many of the metal project components have potential for reuse or scrap value, depending on the market value of the metals at the time of decommissioning. New industrial technologies that recycle turbine blades are currently gaining traction in the marketplace and are expected to increase in utilization over the lifespan of the project (as one example, see https://www.globalfiberglassinc.com).

The lands that host project infrastructure will be reclaimed and reseeded to meet rehabilitation standards of the landowner (primarily BLM). Reclamation objectives include the restoration of natural vegetation, hydrology, and wildlife habitats.
Where will the turbine parts go once they are at the end of their life or need replaced?
MVE’s decommissioning plan prioritizes the reuse, recycling, and scrap value of decommissioned of project components to reduce the amount of material that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Many of the metal project components have potential for reuse or scrap value, depending on the market value of the metals at the time of decommissioning. New industrial technologies that recycle turbine blades are currently gaining traction in the marketplace and are expected to increase in utilization over the lifespan of the project (as one example, see https://www.globalfiberglassinc.com).

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