Friday, July 22, 2011

Wyoming wind farm, which would be the largest yet in North America, gets preliminary approval

The Bureau of Land Management gave preliminary approval today "for what it says would be the largest wind farm in North America, producing roughly as much power as three nuclear reactors," Phil Taylor reports for Environment & Energy News.

The Power Company of Wyoming said its Chokecherry and Sierra Madre project would generate up to 3,000 megawatts, enough power for 800,000 houses. It would have as many as 1,000 turbines on 320,000 acres of BLM land in southeast Wyoming, about half of which is managed by the BLM. The federal agency said it hopes to give final approval in September 2012, and construction could take up to four years.

Wind turbines pose a threat to birds, but a National Audubon Society official "said the agency has taken meaningful steps to avoid harming sage grouse and is conducting important pre-construction studies to gauge the impacts on avian species," Taylor reports. "Steps include the installation of a $300,000 avian radar system to track the movements of golden eagles and prairie falcons, among others," according to Brian Rutledge, vice president for state programs in the society's Rocky Mountain region. "Siting is important because sage grouse view any vertical structures as a threat, he said. Birds of prey use high perches to prey on the grouse." (Read more, subscription required)

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