Mohave County Wind Farm Project Record of Decision, 20622-20625 [2019-09677]

Download as PDF 20622 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 91 / Friday, May 10, 2019 / Notices Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. Pursuant to the authority in section 131 a. of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as delegated, I have determined that this proposed subsequent arrangement will not be inimical to the common defense and security of the United States of America. Dated: April 30, 2019. For the Department of Energy. Brent K. Park, Deputy Administrator, Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. [FR Doc. 2019–09679 Filed 5–9–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450–01–P DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY National Nuclear Security Administration Proposed Subsequent Arrangement National Nuclear Security Administration, Department of Energy. ACTION: Proposed subsequent arrangement. AGENCY: This document is being issued under the authority of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended. The Department is providing notice of a proposed subsequent arrangement under the Agreement for Cooperation between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Korea Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. DATES: This subsequent arrangement will take effect no sooner than May 28, 2019. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Sean Oehlbert, Office of Nonproliferation and Arms Control, National Nuclear Security Administration, Department of Energy. Telephone: 202–586–3806 or email: sean.oehlbert@nnsa.doe.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This proposed subsequent arrangement concerns the addition of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) to the advance consent list of countries or destinations referred to in paragraph 1(c) of Article 18 of the Agreement for Cooperation between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Korea Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, done at Washington on June 15, 2015 (the Agreement) and paragraph 1.a. of section 3 of the Agreed Minute to the Agreement. Third countries or khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:03 May 09, 2019 Jkt 247001 destinations on the advance consent list are eligible to receive retransfers from the Republic of Korea of unirradiated low enriched uranium, unirradiated source material, equipment and components subject to paragraph 2 of Article 10 of the Agreement. The UK will be eligible to receive such retransfers upon entry into force of the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. Pursuant to the authority in section 131 a. of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as delegated, I have determined that this proposed subsequent arrangement will not be inimical to the common defense and security of the United States of America. Dated: April 30, 2019. For the Department of Energy. Brent K. Park, Deputy Administrator, Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. [FR Doc. 2019–09678 Filed 5–9–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450–01–P DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Western Area Power Administration [DOE/EIS–0441] Mohave County Wind Farm Project Record of Decision Western Area Power Administration, DOE. ACTION: Record of decision. AGENCY: NextEra Energy Resources, LLC (NextEra), through its entity Mohave County Wind Farm, LLC, proposes to develop its Mohave County Wind Farm Project (Project) and interconnect it to Western Area Power Administration’s (WAPA) MeadPeacock 345-kilovolt (kV) transmission line. The Project site is located in the White Hills of Mohave County, Arizona, on lands managed by the U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation). Based in part on the analysis in the final environmental impact statement (Final EIS), WAPA has determined to allow NextEra’s request for interconnection to WAPA’s transmission system on the Mead-Peacock 345-kV transmission line; to construct, own, operate, and maintain a new Project switchyard and associated communications equipment; and to replace or upgrade certain equipment in the Mead Substation to accommodate the Project. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 For further information, please contact Mark Wieringa, NEPA Document Manager, Headquarters Office, Western Area Power Administration, A9402, P.O. Box 281213, Lakewood, CO 80228, telephone (720) 962–7448, or email wieringa@wapa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: WAPA is a Federal agency within the Department of Energy (DOE) that markets and transmits wholesale electrical power through an integrated 17,000-circuit mile, high-voltage transmission system across 15 western states. WAPA’s Open Access Transmission Service Tariff provides open access to its electric transmission system. In reviewing interconnection requests, WAPA must ensure that existing reliability and service are not degraded. WAPA’s Large Generator Interconnection Procedures provides for transmission and system studies to ensure that system reliability and service to existing customers are not adversely affected by new interconnections. In 2009, BP Wind Energy North America Inc. (BP Wind Energy) applied to the BLM and Reclamation for, respectively, right-of-way (ROW) and right-of-use (ROU) permits on public and Federal land to construct, operate, maintain, and eventually decommission a wind-powered electrical generation facility in Mohave County, Arizona. BP Wind Energy concurrently applied to interconnect its proposed Project to WAPA’s Liberty-Mead 345-kV transmission line or the Mead-Phoenix 500-kV transmission line, of which WAPA is a participating partner, and both traverse the Project area in adjacent ROWs. The proposed Project site is located in the White Hills of Mohave County about 40 miles northwest of Kingman, Arizona, and immediately south of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area (NRA) boundary (map 1–1 of the Final EIS). The proposed Project is described in the Final EIS and is outlined in detail in the associated BLM Plan of Development (POD). These documents and others related to the proposed Project can be found on the BLM’s website for the Project at https:// eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/ eplanning/legacyProjectSite. do?methodName=renderLegacy ProjectSite&projectId=77804. In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as amended, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, as amended, the BLM as lead agency prepared and released a Draft EIS on April 27, 2012 (77 FR 25165), and subsequently held public meetings on FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: E:\FR\FM\10MYN1.SGM 10MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 91 / Friday, May 10, 2019 / Notices the document in Kingman, Dolan Springs, Peach Springs, and White Hills, Arizona, during the public comment period. WAPA was a cooperating agency in the NEPA process. Following the release of the Draft EIS, and with assistance from WAPA and other cooperating agencies, the BLM prepared a Final EIS that was released on May 17, 2013 (78 FR 29131). In addition to WAPA, other cooperating agencies involved in the Project included the U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Lower Colorado Region, and the National Park Service, Lake Mead National Recreation Area; the Hualapai Tribe, Department of Cultural Resources; the Arizona Game and Fish Department; and Mohave County, Arizona. After consideration of comments received on the Final EIS, the BLM and Reclamation approved the ROW and ROU grant on June 25, 2013, and signed a record of decision (ROD) on June 26, 2013. A Notice of Availability for the BLM ROD was published in the Federal Register on September 27, 2013 (78 FR 57173). khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES WAPA’s Proposed Federal Action At the time the Project was proposed, WAPA’s proposed Federal action was to interconnect the Project to WAPA’s existing Liberty-Mead 345-kV transmission line or the Mead-Phoenix 500-kV transmission line, of which WAPA is a participating partner, and to construct, own, operate, and maintain a new switchyard and communications facilities on BLM-administered public land adjacent to the transmission line. As a result of the original interconnection request, WAPA applied to the BLM for a ROW grant on the Project site to develop a switchyard on one of two approximately 10-acre locations that would interconnect the proposed wind generation Project to the electrical power grid; that ROW grant was approved as part of the grant to BP Wind Energy. WAPA also considered what upgrades to equipment in the Mead Substation would be required if the decision was to interconnect with the Liberty-Mead transmission line. While the BLM concluded its NEPA process with their ROD and ROW grant in 2013, BP Wind Energy needed to secure contracts for the power resources to be generated by its proposed Project before it could determine the transmission path needed and to which of the two alternative transmission lines it wanted to interconnect. Selection of the transmission line would also determine which of the alternative substation/switchyard locations would be used. Because this decision was not VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:03 May 09, 2019 Jkt 247001 made, WAPA could not execute a ROD at that time. Subsequently the proposed Project was sold, and is currently being developed by NextEra. NextEra’s entity developing the Project is still named Mohave County Wind Farm, LLC, but the Project itself has been renamed the White Hills Wind Project. In the interest of limiting confusion and retaining consistency with the prior NEPA documents, WAPA is using the original Mohave County Wind Farm Project name for purposes of this ROD. NextEra has selected WAPA’s MeadPeacock 345-kV transmission line for interconnection, allowing WAPA to move forward with this ROD. Peacock Substation is located about halfway along the Mead-Liberty transmission line. The proposed Project remains within the same footprint, retains the same general turbine layout, and would generate the same amount of power, 425 megawatts (MW), as previously approved. Newer, more advanced turbine models are proposed, which would reduce the number of turbines compared to the original proposal. Preliminary engineering resulted in moving the Project substation and WAPA’s switchyard east-southeast along the existing Mead-Peacock 345-kV transmission line about 0.9 miles to section 16, Township 28 North, Range 20 West. The new location will be surveyed for cultural and biological resources, and any change in impacts associated with this relocation, about 10 acres out of the 38,110 acres included in the Project site, is anticipated to be negligible. NextEra has been coordinating with the BLM on their Project, and the BLM is aware of the Project changes. WAPA also consulted with the Arizona State Office of the BLM as a cooperating agency. The BLM has determined that there have been no substantial changes in the proposed action that are relevant to environmental concerns, and there are no significant new circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns and bearing on the proposed action or its impacts. Therefore, the BLM has determined that the Final EIS, BLM ROD, and BLM POD originally prepared for the BP Wind Energy Project remain valid and are fully adequate. Given the BLM’s position, WAPA has determined that a Supplemental EIS is not required for its Federal action, which is a very small part of the overall Project. The Proposed Project The Project as originally proposed by BP Wind Energy and approved by BLM was to construct, operate, maintain, and PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 20623 eventually decommission a wind energy generation facility on BLM- and Reclamation-managed lands. The Project would generate and deliver electrical power to the regional electrical transmission grid by interconnecting with an existing transmission line crossing through the southern portion of the Project site. The Project’s nameplate generating capacity would be 425 MW if the Project interconnected to the 345-kV LibertyMead transmission line and 500 MW if the Project interconnected to the 500-kV Mead-Phoenix transmission line. Project features include, but are not limited to, turbines aligned within corridors, access roads, an operations and maintenance building, a water well drilled to support the operations and maintenance building, two temporary laydown/staging areas (with temporary concrete batch plant operations), temporary and permanent meteorological towers, two substations, the WAPA switchyard, and collector lines that carry the power from the turbines to the substations. While typically buried underground, collector lines could be on aboveground structures to span terrain and environmentally and culturally sensitive areas. The Project would require: • Up to 10 acres of BLM-administered public lands within the Project site to be used for construction of the switchyard that will be operated by WAPA; • An approximately 3-mile long access road between the Project site and U.S. Route 93 (US 93); • Temporary use of the existing Detrital Wash Materials Pit as a materials source for the base material of roads and for concrete needed for foundations. The existing water wells in the immediate vicinity of this materials source would provide temporary construction-phase water for batch plant operations and dust suppression; • A temporary water pipeline that would extend within the primary access road ROW from the materials source to the main laydown/staging area where batch plant operations would occur; • A distribution line that would tap into an existing power line south of the Project site, parallel US 93 north to the access road, follow the access road to the main (southernmost) laydown/ staging area where batch plant operations will occur, and extend to the operations and maintenance building; and • Replacement of an existing 345/ 230-kV transformer and associated breakers and switches within WAPA’s Mead Substation with two new 600 megavolt-ampere (MVA) 345/230-kV E:\FR\FM\10MYN1.SGM 10MYN1 20624 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 91 / Friday, May 10, 2019 / Notices transformers and new breakers and switches if the 345-kV interconnection option is selected. These replacements, which would be required to accommodate the increased electrical loading related to generation from the proposed Project, would be accomplished by WAPA at BP Wind Energy’s expense. The existing transformer is at the terminus of the Liberty-Mead 345-kV line in Mead Substation; the substation is located near Boulder City, Nevada. BP Wind Energy filed applications to interconnect the Project described above with either the 345-kV or 500-kV transmission line in 2009. NextEra’s current Project would also be as described above, except that the substation and adjacent WAPA switchyard location have been relocated, fewer turbines would be constructed, and the Project would interconnect to the Mead-Peacock portion of the Mead-Liberty 345-kV transmission line. Some of the equipment in Mead Substation slated for replacement as part of the Project has already been upgraded during the 2013–2018 time frame, but one transformer and associated equipment would still have to be replaced as part of the Project, as well as some communications work. khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES Description of Project Alternatives Five alternatives were considered in the Final EIS. Alternative A was the proposed action identified by BP Wind Energy. Alternative B reduced the proposed Project site footprint and would have fewer turbines than Alternative A to reduce visual and noise impacts primarily on Lake Mead NRA and secondly on private property. Alternative C also reduced the proposed Project site footprint and had fewer turbines than Alternative A to reduce visual and noise impacts. Alternative D was the no-action alternative under which the proposed Project would not be built. Alternative E (Preferred Alternative) was a combination of Alternatives A and B and responds to concerns for visual and noise impacts on Lake Mead NRA and existing residents. Alternative E also addressed information about golden eagle breeding areas, which supported the need to establish a no-build area and curtailment zone to reduce potential impacts on golden eagles within the Squaw Peak breeding area in the northwest portion of the Project site. All action alternatives included the Project features as described above under ‘‘The Proposed Project.’’ NextEra plans to implement Alternative E. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:03 May 09, 2019 Jkt 247001 WAPA, the BLM, and Reclamation determined that the No Action Alternative and Alternative E, the Selected Alternative, were the environmentally preferred alternatives because they will cause the least damage to the biological and physical environment. Although the No Action Alternative would have the least effect on the environment, the No Action Alternative would not allow development of the proposed Project and would not meet the BLM’s and Reclamation’s purpose and need for Federal action, including responding to BP Wind Energy’s (now NextEra’s) application for ROW and ROU permits and furthering national renewable energy policies and directives, nor would it meet WAPA’s purpose and need for responding to the interconnection request and providing open access to transmission in accordance with Federal law. Of the action alternatives, the Selected Alternative represents the environmentally preferred alternative because it meets the various agencies’ purpose and need for Federal action, assists in meeting Federal and state renewable energy goals and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, includes measures to protect golden eagles and other biological resources, effectively minimizes potential visual and noise effects on the Lake Mead NRA by eliminating selected turbine corridors in the northwest and northeast portions of the Project area, and requires a minimum 0.25-mile setback from private land to reduce potential visual and noise effects. The phased approach to development and curtailment zone will emphasize initial development in less environmentally sensitive areas and minimize impacts to nesting golden eagles. Description of WAPA Switchyard Location Options The construction portion of WAPA’s proposed Federal action is limited to about 10 acres within the overall approximately 38,110-acre Project site. The Project alternatives ultimately developed by the BLM and Reclamation were primarily variations of turbine string arrangements within the same general location. Existing transmission lines that BP Wind Energy initially considered for interconnection included the Liberty-Mead 345-kV transmission line, the Mead-Phoenix 500-kV transmission line, and the Moenkopi-El Dorado 500-kV transmission line, with the latter line being dropped for consideration during the NEPA process. The Liberty-Mead and Mead-Phoenix lines parallel each other on adjacent PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 ROWs and pass through the Project site. WAPA and the other agencies considered suitable switchyard and adjacent Project substation locations along these lines, with potential 500-kV interconnection locations located on the north of the lines and 345-kV locations on the south, adjacent to their respective voltage lines. Once determined, these locations were the same for all proposed Project action alternatives. Two switchyard locations east of the Project site were considered for an interconnection to the Mead-Phoenix 500-kV transmission line during the preparation of the electrical system studies. These two interconnection points were considered when a solarpowered generation facility was proposed east of the Project. A shared interconnection point located between the two proposed projects was proposed, but the solar project was cancelled, eliminating the need for a shared interconnection. Therefore, these two off-site interconnection points and the additional transmission required to reach them were dropped from further consideration. Three locations were identified for the 345-kV switchyard within the Project site, each paired with a nearby Project substation location (one of two substations planned for the proposed Project). The locations each had at least 10 acres that could be developed and were relatively level. Besides proximity to the Liberty-Mead transmission line, locations were also selected based on the proposed layout of Project facilities, lack of identified cultural resources, lack of listed plant species, minimal presence of sensitive plant species, presence of existing site access, and a lack of near-surface rock or rock outcrops that would complicate grading and construction. These criteria, plus consideration of the proposed Project substation location, led to the elimination of two of the locations, and incorporation of the best-suited switchyard location into the Project action alternatives. The same process was used to identify and select the 500-kV switchyard location on the north side of the two existing transmission lines, which also became part of the larger Project alternatives. These locations were sited in sections 8 and 9 of Township 28 North, Range 20 West for the 345-kV and 500-kV interconnection points, respectively. Of the locations identified, these switchyard locations were determined to be the locations having the least potential environmental impact. Subsequently, initial design work for the NextEra Project resulted in the identification of a new location for the E:\FR\FM\10MYN1.SGM 10MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 91 / Friday, May 10, 2019 / Notices khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES Project substation and adjacent WAPA switchyard in section 16 of Township 28 North, Range 20 West, on the south side of the parallel transmission lines. Visits to the original location resulted in the identification of potential jurisdictional waters due to the washes and erosional features present. The new location avoids jurisdictional waters and related washes and has favorable slopes and elevation. The new location would require less grading and avoids the need to re-direct active washes, so overall environmental impacts are expected to be reduced when compared to the original location. Mitigation Measures Since the WAPA switchyard is an integral component of the Project, it will be subject to the applicable mitigation measures identified in the BLM’s ROD under 4.0 Mitigation Measures, chapter 4 of the Final EIS, the Project POD, and the Project and WAPA’s ROW grant. The BLM also has a series of specific plans addressing particular aspects of the Project, including an Integrated Reclamation Plan; Health, Safety, Security, and Environment Plan; Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Plan; Transportation and Traffic Plan; Dust and Emissions Control Plan; Blasting Plan (if required); Mining Plan of Operations; Flagging Plan; Decommissioning Plan; Eagle Conservation Plan/Bird Conservation Strategy; Bat Conservation Strategy; Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan; and Environmental Construction Compliance and Monitoring Plan. Specific measures for the switchyard in the ROW grant from the BLM, if any, will also be implemented. In addition, best management practices and construction requirements included in WAPA’s Construction Standard 13 will be in effect for the switchyard, and enforced through a mandatory clause in the switchyard construction contract. As the switchyard location will be graded flat and covered with aggregate, environmental concerns are mostly related to dust abatement, stormwater control, and erosion prevention. WAPA’s design for and construction of the switchyard will anticipate these potential impacts and avoid or minimize them so additional mitigation is not required. The various plans, requirements, and mitigations discussed above incorporate all practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm from the proposed Project. Park Service, among others. None of these comments raised substantive issues requiring a response, but were considered in the BLM’s and Reclamation’s decision making. Additionally, Defenders of Wildlife provided recommendations to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the Eagle Conservation Plan. None of the comments received on the Final EIS were specific to WAPA’s switchyard. WAPA determined that the comments did not present any significant new circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns and bearing on the Project or its impacts, and a Supplemental EIS was not required. Decision WAPA’s decision is to allow NextEra’s request for interconnection to WAPA’s Mead-Peacock 345-kV transmission line; to construct, own and operate a new switchyard; and to replace or upgrade certain equipment within the existing Mead Substation at NextEra’s expense. WAPA’s decision to grant this interconnection request satisfies the agency’s statutory mission and NextEra’s objectives and is consistent with the BLM’s and Reclamation’s decisions while minimizing harm to the environment. Full implementation of this decision is contingent upon NextEra meeting all BLM and Reclamation requirements and obtaining all other applicable permits and approvals as well as executing an interconnection agreement in accordance with WAPA’s Open Access Transmission Service Tariff. This decision is based on the information contained in the Mohave County Wind Farm Project Draft and Final EIS, BLM’s ROD, BLM’s POD, recent coordination with the BLM’s Arizona State Office, and WAPA’s updated interconnection facilities study. This ROD was prepared pursuant to the requirements of the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for Implementing NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500–1508) and DOE’s Procedures for Implementing NEPA (10 CFR part 1021). Dated: April 29, 2019. Mark A. Gabriel, Administrator. [FR Doc. 2019–09677 Filed 5–9–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450–01–P Comments on the Final EIS The BLM received comments on the Final EIS from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:03 May 09, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 20625 ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [ER–FRL–9044–7] Environmental Impact Statements; Notice of Availability Responsible Agency: Office of Federal Activities, General Information 202– 564–5632 or https://www.epa.gov/nepa/ . Weekly receipt of Environmental Impact Statements Filed 04/29/2019 Through 05/03/2019 Pursuant to 40 CFR 1506.9. Notice Section 309(a) of the Clean Air Act requires that EPA make public its comments on EISs issued by other Federal agencies. EPA’s comment letters on EISs are available at: https:// cdxnodengn.epa.gov/cdx-enepa-public/ action/eis/search. EIS No. 20190085, Final, FERC, AK, Grant Lake Hydroelectric Project, Review Period Ends: 06/10/2019, Contact: Office of External Affairs 866–208–3372. EIS No. 20190086, Final, USACE, CO, Adams and Denver Counties, Colorado General Investigation Study, Review Period Ends: 06/10/2019, Contact: Dave Crane 402–995–2676. EIS No. 20190087, Final, NASA, VA, NASA WFF Site-wide Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, Review Period Ends: 06/10/2019, Contact: Shari A. Miller 757–824– 2327. EIS No. 20190088, Draft, USACE, CA, Draft Integrated General Reevaluation Report and Environmental Impact Statement for San Francisco Bay to Stockton, California Navigation Study, Comment Period Ends: 06/24/ 2019, Contact: Stacie Auvenshine 904–314–7614. EIS No. 20190089, Final, NPS, CA, Saline Valley Warm Springs Management Plan, Review Period Ends: 06/10/2019, Contact: Kelly Daigle 303–987–6897. EIS No. 20190090, Final, BR, CA, Central Valley Project Water Supply Contracts Under Public Law 101–514 (Section 206): Contract Between the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the El Dorado County Water Agency, Subcontract Between the El Dorado County Water Agency and the El Dorado Irrigation District, and Subcontract Between the El Dorado County Water Agency and the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District, Review Period Ends: 06/10/ 2019, Contact: Cynthia Meyer 916– 537–7060. E:\FR\FM\10MYN1.SGM 10MYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 91 (Friday, May 10, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 20622-20625]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-09677]


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DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

Western Area Power Administration

[DOE/EIS-0441]


Mohave County Wind Farm Project Record of Decision

AGENCY: Western Area Power Administration, DOE.

ACTION: Record of decision.

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SUMMARY: NextEra Energy Resources, LLC (NextEra), through its entity 
Mohave County Wind Farm, LLC, proposes to develop its Mohave County 
Wind Farm Project (Project) and interconnect it to Western Area Power 
Administration's (WAPA) Mead-Peacock 345-kilovolt (kV) transmission 
line. The Project site is located in the White Hills of Mohave County, 
Arizona, on lands managed by the U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of 
Land Management (BLM) and Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation). Based in 
part on the analysis in the final environmental impact statement (Final 
EIS), WAPA has determined to allow NextEra's request for 
interconnection to WAPA's transmission system on the Mead-Peacock 345-
kV transmission line; to construct, own, operate, and maintain a new 
Project switchyard and associated communications equipment; and to 
replace or upgrade certain equipment in the Mead Substation to 
accommodate the Project.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information, please 
contact Mark Wieringa, NEPA Document Manager, Headquarters Office, 
Western Area Power Administration, A9402, P.O. Box 281213, Lakewood, CO 
80228, telephone (720) 962-7448, or email [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: WAPA is a Federal agency within the 
Department of Energy (DOE) that markets and transmits wholesale 
electrical power through an integrated 17,000-circuit mile, high-
voltage transmission system across 15 western states. WAPA's Open 
Access Transmission Service Tariff provides open access to its electric 
transmission system. In reviewing interconnection requests, WAPA must 
ensure that existing reliability and service are not degraded. WAPA's 
Large Generator Interconnection Procedures provides for transmission 
and system studies to ensure that system reliability and service to 
existing customers are not adversely affected by new interconnections.
    In 2009, BP Wind Energy North America Inc. (BP Wind Energy) applied 
to the BLM and Reclamation for, respectively, right-of-way (ROW) and 
right-of-use (ROU) permits on public and Federal land to construct, 
operate, maintain, and eventually decommission a wind-powered 
electrical generation facility in Mohave County, Arizona. BP Wind 
Energy concurrently applied to interconnect its proposed Project to 
WAPA's Liberty-Mead 345-kV transmission line or the Mead-Phoenix 500-kV 
transmission line, of which WAPA is a participating partner, and both 
traverse the Project area in adjacent ROWs. The proposed Project site 
is located in the White Hills of Mohave County about 40 miles northwest 
of Kingman, Arizona, and immediately south of the Lake Mead National 
Recreation Area (NRA) boundary (map 1-1 of the Final EIS). The proposed 
Project is described in the Final EIS and is outlined in detail in the 
associated BLM Plan of Development (POD). These documents and others 
related to the proposed Project can be found on the BLM's website for 
the Project at https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/legacyProjectSite.do?methodName=renderLegacyProjectSite&projectId=77804.

    In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as 
amended, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, as 
amended, the BLM as lead agency prepared and released a Draft EIS on 
April 27, 2012 (77 FR 25165), and subsequently held public meetings on

[[Page 20623]]

the document in Kingman, Dolan Springs, Peach Springs, and White Hills, 
Arizona, during the public comment period. WAPA was a cooperating 
agency in the NEPA process. Following the release of the Draft EIS, and 
with assistance from WAPA and other cooperating agencies, the BLM 
prepared a Final EIS that was released on May 17, 2013 (78 FR 29131). 
In addition to WAPA, other cooperating agencies involved in the Project 
included the U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Lower 
Colorado Region, and the National Park Service, Lake Mead National 
Recreation Area; the Hualapai Tribe, Department of Cultural Resources; 
the Arizona Game and Fish Department; and Mohave County, Arizona. After 
consideration of comments received on the Final EIS, the BLM and 
Reclamation approved the ROW and ROU grant on June 25, 2013, and signed 
a record of decision (ROD) on June 26, 2013. A Notice of Availability 
for the BLM ROD was published in the Federal Register on September 27, 
2013 (78 FR 57173).

WAPA's Proposed Federal Action

    At the time the Project was proposed, WAPA's proposed Federal 
action was to interconnect the Project to WAPA's existing Liberty-Mead 
345-kV transmission line or the Mead-Phoenix 500-kV transmission line, 
of which WAPA is a participating partner, and to construct, own, 
operate, and maintain a new switchyard and communications facilities on 
BLM-administered public land adjacent to the transmission line. As a 
result of the original interconnection request, WAPA applied to the BLM 
for a ROW grant on the Project site to develop a switchyard on one of 
two approximately 10-acre locations that would interconnect the 
proposed wind generation Project to the electrical power grid; that ROW 
grant was approved as part of the grant to BP Wind Energy. WAPA also 
considered what upgrades to equipment in the Mead Substation would be 
required if the decision was to interconnect with the Liberty-Mead 
transmission line.
    While the BLM concluded its NEPA process with their ROD and ROW 
grant in 2013, BP Wind Energy needed to secure contracts for the power 
resources to be generated by its proposed Project before it could 
determine the transmission path needed and to which of the two 
alternative transmission lines it wanted to interconnect. Selection of 
the transmission line would also determine which of the alternative 
substation/switchyard locations would be used. Because this decision 
was not made, WAPA could not execute a ROD at that time.
    Subsequently the proposed Project was sold, and is currently being 
developed by NextEra. NextEra's entity developing the Project is still 
named Mohave County Wind Farm, LLC, but the Project itself has been 
renamed the White Hills Wind Project. In the interest of limiting 
confusion and retaining consistency with the prior NEPA documents, WAPA 
is using the original Mohave County Wind Farm Project name for purposes 
of this ROD.
    NextEra has selected WAPA's Mead-Peacock 345-kV transmission line 
for interconnection, allowing WAPA to move forward with this ROD. 
Peacock Substation is located about halfway along the Mead-Liberty 
transmission line. The proposed Project remains within the same 
footprint, retains the same general turbine layout, and would generate 
the same amount of power, 425 megawatts (MW), as previously approved. 
Newer, more advanced turbine models are proposed, which would reduce 
the number of turbines compared to the original proposal. Preliminary 
engineering resulted in moving the Project substation and WAPA's 
switchyard east-southeast along the existing Mead-Peacock 345-kV 
transmission line about 0.9 miles to section 16, Township 28 North, 
Range 20 West. The new location will be surveyed for cultural and 
biological resources, and any change in impacts associated with this 
relocation, about 10 acres out of the 38,110 acres included in the 
Project site, is anticipated to be negligible.
    NextEra has been coordinating with the BLM on their Project, and 
the BLM is aware of the Project changes. WAPA also consulted with the 
Arizona State Office of the BLM as a cooperating agency. The BLM has 
determined that there have been no substantial changes in the proposed 
action that are relevant to environmental concerns, and there are no 
significant new circumstances or information relevant to environmental 
concerns and bearing on the proposed action or its impacts. Therefore, 
the BLM has determined that the Final EIS, BLM ROD, and BLM POD 
originally prepared for the BP Wind Energy Project remain valid and are 
fully adequate. Given the BLM's position, WAPA has determined that a 
Supplemental EIS is not required for its Federal action, which is a 
very small part of the overall Project.

The Proposed Project

    The Project as originally proposed by BP Wind Energy and approved 
by BLM was to construct, operate, maintain, and eventually decommission 
a wind energy generation facility on BLM- and Reclamation-managed 
lands. The Project would generate and deliver electrical power to the 
regional electrical transmission grid by interconnecting with an 
existing transmission line crossing through the southern portion of the 
Project site. The Project's nameplate generating capacity would be 425 
MW if the Project interconnected to the 345-kV Liberty-Mead 
transmission line and 500 MW if the Project interconnected to the 500-
kV Mead-Phoenix transmission line.
    Project features include, but are not limited to, turbines aligned 
within corridors, access roads, an operations and maintenance building, 
a water well drilled to support the operations and maintenance 
building, two temporary laydown/staging areas (with temporary concrete 
batch plant operations), temporary and permanent meteorological towers, 
two substations, the WAPA switchyard, and collector lines that carry 
the power from the turbines to the substations. While typically buried 
underground, collector lines could be on aboveground structures to span 
terrain and environmentally and culturally sensitive areas. The Project 
would require:
     Up to 10 acres of BLM-administered public lands within the 
Project site to be used for construction of the switchyard that will be 
operated by WAPA;
     An approximately 3-mile long access road between the 
Project site and U.S. Route 93 (US 93);
     Temporary use of the existing Detrital Wash Materials Pit 
as a materials source for the base material of roads and for concrete 
needed for foundations. The existing water wells in the immediate 
vicinity of this materials source would provide temporary construction-
phase water for batch plant operations and dust suppression;
     A temporary water pipeline that would extend within the 
primary access road ROW from the materials source to the main laydown/
staging area where batch plant operations would occur;
     A distribution line that would tap into an existing power 
line south of the Project site, parallel US 93 north to the access 
road, follow the access road to the main (southernmost) laydown/staging 
area where batch plant operations will occur, and extend to the 
operations and maintenance building; and
     Replacement of an existing 345/230-kV transformer and 
associated breakers and switches within WAPA's Mead Substation with two 
new 600 megavolt-ampere (MVA) 345/230-kV

[[Page 20624]]

transformers and new breakers and switches if the 345-kV 
interconnection option is selected. These replacements, which would be 
required to accommodate the increased electrical loading related to 
generation from the proposed Project, would be accomplished by WAPA at 
BP Wind Energy's expense. The existing transformer is at the terminus 
of the Liberty-Mead 345-kV line in Mead Substation; the substation is 
located near Boulder City, Nevada.
    BP Wind Energy filed applications to interconnect the Project 
described above with either the 345-kV or 500-kV transmission line in 
2009. NextEra's current Project would also be as described above, 
except that the substation and adjacent WAPA switchyard location have 
been relocated, fewer turbines would be constructed, and the Project 
would interconnect to the Mead-Peacock portion of the Mead-Liberty 345-
kV transmission line. Some of the equipment in Mead Substation slated 
for replacement as part of the Project has already been upgraded during 
the 2013-2018 time frame, but one transformer and associated equipment 
would still have to be replaced as part of the Project, as well as some 
communications work.

Description of Project Alternatives

    Five alternatives were considered in the Final EIS. Alternative A 
was the proposed action identified by BP Wind Energy. Alternative B 
reduced the proposed Project site footprint and would have fewer 
turbines than Alternative A to reduce visual and noise impacts 
primarily on Lake Mead NRA and secondly on private property. 
Alternative C also reduced the proposed Project site footprint and had 
fewer turbines than Alternative A to reduce visual and noise impacts. 
Alternative D was the no-action alternative under which the proposed 
Project would not be built. Alternative E (Preferred Alternative) was a 
combination of Alternatives A and B and responds to concerns for visual 
and noise impacts on Lake Mead NRA and existing residents. Alternative 
E also addressed information about golden eagle breeding areas, which 
supported the need to establish a no-build area and curtailment zone to 
reduce potential impacts on golden eagles within the Squaw Peak 
breeding area in the northwest portion of the Project site. All action 
alternatives included the Project features as described above under 
``The Proposed Project.'' NextEra plans to implement Alternative E.
    WAPA, the BLM, and Reclamation determined that the No Action 
Alternative and Alternative E, the Selected Alternative, were the 
environmentally preferred alternatives because they will cause the 
least damage to the biological and physical environment. Although the 
No Action Alternative would have the least effect on the environment, 
the No Action Alternative would not allow development of the proposed 
Project and would not meet the BLM's and Reclamation's purpose and need 
for Federal action, including responding to BP Wind Energy's (now 
NextEra's) application for ROW and ROU permits and furthering national 
renewable energy policies and directives, nor would it meet WAPA's 
purpose and need for responding to the interconnection request and 
providing open access to transmission in accordance with Federal law. 
Of the action alternatives, the Selected Alternative represents the 
environmentally preferred alternative because it meets the various 
agencies' purpose and need for Federal action, assists in meeting 
Federal and state renewable energy goals and reduces greenhouse gas 
emissions, includes measures to protect golden eagles and other 
biological resources, effectively minimizes potential visual and noise 
effects on the Lake Mead NRA by eliminating selected turbine corridors 
in the northwest and northeast portions of the Project area, and 
requires a minimum 0.25-mile setback from private land to reduce 
potential visual and noise effects. The phased approach to development 
and curtailment zone will emphasize initial development in less 
environmentally sensitive areas and minimize impacts to nesting golden 
eagles.

Description of WAPA Switchyard Location Options

    The construction portion of WAPA's proposed Federal action is 
limited to about 10 acres within the overall approximately 38,110-acre 
Project site. The Project alternatives ultimately developed by the BLM 
and Reclamation were primarily variations of turbine string 
arrangements within the same general location. Existing transmission 
lines that BP Wind Energy initially considered for interconnection 
included the Liberty-Mead 345-kV transmission line, the Mead-Phoenix 
500-kV transmission line, and the Moenkopi-El Dorado 500-kV 
transmission line, with the latter line being dropped for consideration 
during the NEPA process. The Liberty-Mead and Mead-Phoenix lines 
parallel each other on adjacent ROWs and pass through the Project site. 
WAPA and the other agencies considered suitable switchyard and adjacent 
Project substation locations along these lines, with potential 500-kV 
interconnection locations located on the north of the lines and 345-kV 
locations on the south, adjacent to their respective voltage lines. 
Once determined, these locations were the same for all proposed Project 
action alternatives.
    Two switchyard locations east of the Project site were considered 
for an interconnection to the Mead-Phoenix 500-kV transmission line 
during the preparation of the electrical system studies. These two 
interconnection points were considered when a solar-powered generation 
facility was proposed east of the Project. A shared interconnection 
point located between the two proposed projects was proposed, but the 
solar project was cancelled, eliminating the need for a shared 
interconnection. Therefore, these two off-site interconnection points 
and the additional transmission required to reach them were dropped 
from further consideration.
    Three locations were identified for the 345-kV switchyard within 
the Project site, each paired with a nearby Project substation location 
(one of two substations planned for the proposed Project). The 
locations each had at least 10 acres that could be developed and were 
relatively level. Besides proximity to the Liberty-Mead transmission 
line, locations were also selected based on the proposed layout of 
Project facilities, lack of identified cultural resources, lack of 
listed plant species, minimal presence of sensitive plant species, 
presence of existing site access, and a lack of near-surface rock or 
rock outcrops that would complicate grading and construction.
    These criteria, plus consideration of the proposed Project 
substation location, led to the elimination of two of the locations, 
and incorporation of the best-suited switchyard location into the 
Project action alternatives. The same process was used to identify and 
select the 500-kV switchyard location on the north side of the two 
existing transmission lines, which also became part of the larger 
Project alternatives. These locations were sited in sections 8 and 9 of 
Township 28 North, Range 20 West for the 345-kV and 500-kV 
interconnection points, respectively. Of the locations identified, 
these switchyard locations were determined to be the locations having 
the least potential environmental impact. Subsequently, initial design 
work for the NextEra Project resulted in the identification of a new 
location for the

[[Page 20625]]

Project substation and adjacent WAPA switchyard in section 16 of 
Township 28 North, Range 20 West, on the south side of the parallel 
transmission lines. Visits to the original location resulted in the 
identification of potential jurisdictional waters due to the washes and 
erosional features present. The new location avoids jurisdictional 
waters and related washes and has favorable slopes and elevation. The 
new location would require less grading and avoids the need to re-
direct active washes, so overall environmental impacts are expected to 
be reduced when compared to the original location.

Mitigation Measures

    Since the WAPA switchyard is an integral component of the Project, 
it will be subject to the applicable mitigation measures identified in 
the BLM's ROD under 4.0 Mitigation Measures, chapter 4 of the Final 
EIS, the Project POD, and the Project and WAPA's ROW grant. The BLM 
also has a series of specific plans addressing particular aspects of 
the Project, including an Integrated Reclamation Plan; Health, Safety, 
Security, and Environment Plan; Spill Prevention, Control, and 
Countermeasure Plan; Transportation and Traffic Plan; Dust and 
Emissions Control Plan; Blasting Plan (if required); Mining Plan of 
Operations; Flagging Plan; Decommissioning Plan; Eagle Conservation 
Plan/Bird Conservation Strategy; Bat Conservation Strategy; Stormwater 
Pollution Prevention Plan; and Environmental Construction Compliance 
and Monitoring Plan. Specific measures for the switchyard in the ROW 
grant from the BLM, if any, will also be implemented. In addition, best 
management practices and construction requirements included in WAPA's 
Construction Standard 13 will be in effect for the switchyard, and 
enforced through a mandatory clause in the switchyard construction 
contract. As the switchyard location will be graded flat and covered 
with aggregate, environmental concerns are mostly related to dust 
abatement, stormwater control, and erosion prevention. WAPA's design 
for and construction of the switchyard will anticipate these potential 
impacts and avoid or minimize them so additional mitigation is not 
required. The various plans, requirements, and mitigations discussed 
above incorporate all practicable means to avoid or minimize 
environmental harm from the proposed Project.

Comments on the Final EIS

    The BLM received comments on the Final EIS from the U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service, among 
others. None of these comments raised substantive issues requiring a 
response, but were considered in the BLM's and Reclamation's decision 
making. Additionally, Defenders of Wildlife provided recommendations to 
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the Eagle Conservation 
Plan. None of the comments received on the Final EIS were specific to 
WAPA's switchyard. WAPA determined that the comments did not present 
any significant new circumstances or information relevant to 
environmental concerns and bearing on the Project or its impacts, and a 
Supplemental EIS was not required.

Decision

    WAPA's decision is to allow NextEra's request for interconnection 
to WAPA's Mead-Peacock 345-kV transmission line; to construct, own and 
operate a new switchyard; and to replace or upgrade certain equipment 
within the existing Mead Substation at NextEra's expense. WAPA's 
decision to grant this interconnection request satisfies the agency's 
statutory mission and NextEra's objectives and is consistent with the 
BLM's and Reclamation's decisions while minimizing harm to the 
environment. Full implementation of this decision is contingent upon 
NextEra meeting all BLM and Reclamation requirements and obtaining all 
other applicable permits and approvals as well as executing an 
interconnection agreement in accordance with WAPA's Open Access 
Transmission Service Tariff.
    This decision is based on the information contained in the Mohave 
County Wind Farm Project Draft and Final EIS, BLM's ROD, BLM's POD, 
recent coordination with the BLM's Arizona State Office, and WAPA's 
updated interconnection facilities study. This ROD was prepared 
pursuant to the requirements of the Council on Environmental Quality 
Regulations for Implementing NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508) and DOE's 
Procedures for Implementing NEPA (10 CFR part 1021).

    Dated: April 29, 2019.
Mark A. Gabriel,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2019-09677 Filed 5-9-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 6450-01-P