In order to address the growing interest in developing wind energy resources and National Energy Policy recommendations to increase renewable energy production capability, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) began evaluating wind energy potential on public lands and developing a wind energy policy. In October 2003, the BLM started preparation of a Wind Energy Development Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) to analyze the potential impacts of wind energy development on public lands and to minimize those impacts to natural, cultural, and socioeconomic resources. The PEIS was published in June 2005, and in December 2005 the Record of Decision was signed to implement a comprehensive Wind Energy Development program on BLM-administered lands in the western United States. The program has established policies and best management practices (BMPs) to address the administration of wind energy development actions on BLM lands and has identified mitigation measures. The programmatic policies and BMPs of the Wind Energy Development Program allow project-specific analysis to focus on the site-specific issues and concerns of individual projects. On August 24, 2006, the BLM Washington Office issued Instruction Memorandum (IM) 2006-216, Right-of-Way Management, Wind Energy Land Use Plan Amendments, Wind Energy. The IM provided guidance on issuing rights-of-way (ROWs) for wind energy testing, monitoring, and development. Until then, the BLM had an interim wind energy policy, issued in 2002.
In January 2006, Babcock and Brown (since acquired by Pattern Energy [Pattern]), through Spring Valley Wind LLC (SVW), applied for a testing and monitoring ROW in Spring Valley, north of Ely, Nevada. Since then, it has maintained anemometers to determine the suitability of the project for wind energy development. In October 2007, SVW applied for a wind energy development ROW grant from BLM. The ROW grant would be for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the 75-turbine, 150- megawatt (MW) Spring Valley Wind Energy Facility (SVWEF) and associated facilities. Additionally, a mineral materials permit would be issued for gravel pits and associated access roads connected to the facility. The SVWEF would be located on approximately 7,673 acres in the project area (Table 1) and consist of 75 turbines and associated infrastructure.
In December 2008, a new IM, 2009-044, was issued to update policy and give further guidance on processing Wind Energy Facilities (WEFs) on BLM-administered lands. SVW updated its Plan of Development (POD) to comply with the new guidance. The POD was tentatively finalized in October 2009 but may change in response to comments on the preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA).
The PEIS describes the types of impacts that may occur from wind energy development on BLMadministered lands, and the SVWEF EA provides site-specific analysis tiered to the PEIS. Using the EA and PEIS for guidance, the Avian and Bat Protection Plan (ABPP) for the SVWEF was developed in order to provide project-specific guidelines for mitigating avian and bat impacts that may result from the project.
In July 2010, a new IM, 2010-156, was issued to provide direction to renewable energy projects for complying with the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. This ABPP has been prepared in compliance with the 2010 IM.