Buckeye Wind LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of EverPower Wind Holdings, Inc., (EverPower; hereafter referred to as Buckeye Wind) has proposed development of a wind-powered electric generation facility located in Champaign County in west central Ohio (Figure 1-1). The Buckeye Wind Project (the Project) would consist of up to 100 wind turbines, each with a nameplate capacity rating of 1.6 to 2.5 megawatts (MW), resulting in a total generating capacity of up to 250 MW. The locations of 52 turbines are currently known and the additional 48 turbines will be developed at a later time in accordance with all applicable local, state, and federal guidelines. The Project would also include development of access roads, transmission equipment, staging areas, a substation, and an operations and maintenance facility located within portions of Union, Wayne, Urbana, Salem, Rush, and Goshen Townships.
This Avian and Bat Protection Plan (ABPP) has been developed by Buckeye Wind to provide a detailed framework through which adverse impacts to migratory birds and non-federally listed bats1 will be avoided and minimized during Project planning, siting, construction, operation, and decommissioning. The ABPP has been developed to address potential impacts that could result from the full 100-turbine project. Buckeye Wind began consultation with the Ohio Ecological Services Field Office of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife (ODNR DOW) in 2006 to identify and minimize risks to avian and bat resources from the proposed Project. As part of due-diligence, Buckeye Wind conducted numerous pre-construction surveys for the proposed Project including, but not limited to: surveys for birds and bats, surveys of ecological communities and habitats, and surveys for threatened and endangered species. Pre-construction surveys were designed for an area that included portions of Champaign County and extended north into Logan County (“Initial Study Area”; see Figure 1-1). The pre-construction surveys were initiated in fall 2007 and continued throughout 2008. Project planning incorporated the results of preconstruction field surveys for birds and bats, as well as input from ongoing consultation with state and federal wildlife agencies. During pre-construction surveys, the presence of federally endangered Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis) in the northern portion of the Initial Study Area was documented. Two reproductive adult female and one non-reproductive adult male Indiana bats were captured as part of the 2008 survey. The Initial Study Area was subsequently reduced to be at least 8 km (5 mi) from the 2008 Indiana bat capture and roost locations and then adjusted to allow for replacement of potential turbine locations eliminated due to the southward shift (“Adjusted Project Area”, Figure 1-1).
Mist-netting conducted in Champaign County during the summer of 2009 for an unrelated project resulted in the capture of Indiana bats within the Adjusted Project Area. Buckeye Wind subsequently prepared a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) in support of an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) application pursuant to Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The HCP describes the impacts to Indiana bats that are likely to result from the Project and the measures that will be undertaken to minimize and mitigate such impacts. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was also prepared by the USFWS in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to evaluate the effects of the potential issuance of an ITP for Indiana bats. The HCP and associated EIS evaluated an area that included the Adjusted Project Area, plus additional areas that were defined during the NEPA scoping process (“Action Area”; Figure 1-1). While the HCP and EIS consider the Action Area as a whole, all of the turbines and associated facilities will be located within the Adjusted Project Area.
The Action Area comprises an area approximately 32,395 hectares (ha; 80,051 acres [ac]) that includes portions of Union, Wayne, Urbana, Salem, Rush, and Goshen Townships in Champaign County, OH (referred to hereafter as the Action Area) (Figure 1-1). Within the Action Area, the permanent footprint (the area of permanent disturbance) for the entire Project will be no more than 52.2 ha (128.9 ac), or 0.16% of the total Action Area. Development of the Project will include installation of up to 100 wind turbine generators (turbines), each with a nameplate capacity rating of 1.6 MW to 2.5 MW, resulting in a total generating capacity of up to 250 MW. The Project will also include development of service roads, electricity collection lines, staging areas, and an operations and maintenance (O&M) facility.
The design evaluated as the primary option in this ABPP includes approximately 113.5 kilometers (km; 70.5 miles [mi]) of 34.5 kilovolt (kV) interconnect lines that are to be built above ground on rebuilt poles in existing public road right-of ways. The lines would be over-hung on poles used by the local electric utilities to distribute power to local residences and businesses. Buckeye Wind has identified a possible re-design of the Project collection system that would allow a more efficient infrastructure, resulting in greater ease of construction. The potential redesign would move a portion of those lines to an underground system located on private land under easement (“Redesign Option”). This Redesign Option is under consideration and would require various state and local permits and amendments to those permits. As such, it is offered here as an optional Project design that would be implemented at Buckeye Wind’s discretion. While the exact design is not known at this time, the Redesign Option would include 95.4 km (59.3 mi) of 34.5 kV interconnect lines. A reasonable estimate of impacts for the 100-turbine Project with the Redesign Option is presented in this document. No turbine locations would be altered except as otherwise required as part of normal project micro-siting (see HCP Section 7.3.2 – Additional Turbines). Throughout this document, impacts associated with the Redesign Option are presented where applicable. Unless indicated otherwise, the impacts and discussion in this ABPP would apply to either collection system design that is contemplated.
It is anticipated that development of the 100-turbine Project will include (also see HCP Section 2.2 - Table 2-1):
- 64.4 km; (40.0 mi) of new service roads that will connect wind turbines to existing access roads;
- 113.5 km (70.5 mi) of 34.5 kV electrical interconnect lines that will connect individual turbines to the substation, of which,
- 56.7 km (35.2 mi) will be installed underground with the majority (approximately 84%) installed parallel to Project access roads, requiring no additional clearing or soil impacts beyond those required for access road construction, and
- 56.8 km (35.3 mi) will be installed overhead in public road right-of-ways (mostly co-located with existing electric distribution facilities);
- Under the Redesign Option, there would be 95.4 km (59.3 mi) of 34.5 kV electrical interconnect lines that will connect individual turbines to the substation, of which;
- 86.5 km (53.7 mi) will be installed underground with about 32% installed parallel to Project access roads.
- 9.0 km (5.6 mi) will be installed overhead;
- Temporary crane paths totaling approximately 22.7 km (14.1 mi);
- Up to 4 temporary construction staging areas, occupying a cumulative area of approximately 9.2 ha (22.9 ac);
- 1 substation that will allow connection with the existing transmission line, occupying area of approximately 2.0 ha (5.0 ac);
- 1 O&M facility and associated storage yard (likely to be refurbishment of existing facility); and
- Up to 2 concrete batch plants occupying a cumulative area of 2.4 ha (6.0 ac).
Areas where trees will be temporarily or permanently removed are anticipated to comprise approximately 6.5 ha (16.1 ac) for the 100-turbine Project, or 0.2% of the 2,744 ha (6,779 ac) of forested habitat available in the Action Area (6.8 ha [16.8 ac] for the Redesign Option)2.
Avoidance and minimization measures that Buckeye Wind will implement to reduce impacts to Indiana bats are detailed in the HCP. In addition to evaluating impacts to Indiana bats, the EIS also assesses impacts to migratory birds, non-federally listed bats, and other wildlife species from the proposed Project. Avoidance and minimization measures included in the HCP for Indiana bats are expected to also minimize impacts to non-federally listed bat species, as well as birds.
This ABPP is structured around careful Project planning, siting, and construction. Several Project design and construction measures, described in more detail in the following sections, will be implemented to avoid and minimize impacts to birds and bats to the extent practicable. Mortality monitoring for Indiana bats will be conducted for the life of the Project as a condition of the ITP. Mortality monitoring of non-federally listed bat and bird species will be conducted throughout the life of the Project coincident with monitoring for Indiana bats, providing a much more robust monitoring Program for non-federally listed bats and bird species than is typically incorporated for wind projects.