Badger State Solar, LLC: Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement and Hold a Virtual Public Scoping Meeting on October 26, 2021, 54918-54920 [2021-21579]

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 190 (Tuesday, October 5, 2021)]
[Notices]
[Pages 54918-54920]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-21579]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Rural Utilities Service

[Docket Number: RUS-21-Electric-0020]


Badger State Solar, LLC: Notice of Intent To Prepare an 
Environmental Impact Statement and Hold a Virtual Public Scoping 
Meeting on October 26, 2021

AGENCY: Rural Utilities Service, Agriculture (USDA).

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement 
and hold a virtual public scoping meeting.

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SUMMARY: The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) announces its intent to 
prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and hold a virtual 
public scoping meeting in connection with possible impacts related to 
the Badger State Solar, LLC's Alternating Current solar project 
(Project). The Project consists of a 149-megawatt photovoltaic 
Alternating Current solar energy generating facility located on 
approximately 1,750 acres in the Townships of Jefferson and Oakland, in 
Jefferson County, Wisconsin. RUS is considering funding this 
application, thereby making the proposed Project an undertaking subject 
to review under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). RUS has 
determined that a loan for the Project would be a federal action and 
is, therefore, subject to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 
review.

DATES: The public scoping meeting webinar will be held on October 26, 
2021 at 7 p.m. EST via Zoom. Those wishing to attend the webinar are 
invited to register online at the virtual scoping meeting room website 
https://badgerstatesolar.consultation.ai. An email will be sent to 
registrants with information for how to access the webinar. Attendees 
will be able to provide spoken comments during the webinar. The virtual 
scoping meeting room is an interactive website which will be available 
throughout the public scoping period. Attendees will be able to submit 
written comments through the virtual scoping meeting room website. 
Written comments may also be submitted to [email protected].
    Written requests to participate as a ``consulting party'' or to 
provide comments for consideration during the scoping process for the 
proposed Project must be received on or before November 4, 2021.

ADDRESSES: To request ``consulting party'' status, submit comments, or 
for further information, please contact: [email protected].
    Project-related information will be available at RUS's and Badger 
State Solar's websites located at: https://www.rd.usda.gov/resources/environmental-studies/impact-statements, https://badgerstatesolar.consultation.ai, and https://www.badgerstatesolar.com. 
This includes the Alternative Evaluation and Site Selection Studies 
prepared for the project. Project information will also be available at 
the Jefferson Public Library in Jefferson, WI; the Cambridge Community 
Library in Cambridge, WI and the Lake Mills Library in Lake Mills, WI.
    Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, electronic communication is preferred 
because delivery of hard copies by mail may not be delivered in a 
timely manner.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: RUS is the lead federal agency, as defined 
at 40 CFR 1508.1(o), for preparation of the EIS. With this notice, 
federal and state agencies and federally recognized Tribes with 
jurisdiction or special expertise are invited to be cooperating 
agencies. Such agencies or tribes may make a request to RUS to be a 
cooperating agency by contacting the RUS contact provided in this 
notice. Designated cooperating

[[Page 54919]]

agencies have certain responsibilities to support the NEPA and scoping 
process, as specified at 40 CFR 1501.8.
    In addition, with this notice, RUS invites any affected federal, 
state, and local agencies, Tribes, and other interested persons to 
comment on the scope, alternatives, and significant issues to be 
analyzed in depth in the EIS.
    Throughout the scoping period a virtual public scoping meeting room 
will be available online at https://badgerstatesolar.consultation.ai. 
The virtual public scoping meeting room is an interactive website which 
will include information about the project, the NEPA process, and next 
steps in the process. Interested parties will also be able to register 
to attend the October 26 webinar on Zoom through the virtual scoping 
meeting room website.
    Public participation is an integral component of the environmental 
review process for federal actions. Public participation will be 
especially important during the scoping phase of the proposed Project. 
RUS will be seeking information, comments, and assistance from federal, 
State, and local agencies, Tribes, and other individuals who may be 
interested in or affected by the proposed Project. This input will be 
used in preparing the Draft EIS. Comments submitted during the scoping 
process should be in writing. The comments should describe as clearly 
and completely as possible any issues, concerns, or input commenters 
may have so that they can be addressed appropriately in the EIS.
    RUS is considering funding this application, thereby making the 
proposed Project an undertaking subject to review under Section 106 of 
the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), 16 U.S.C. 470(f), and 
its implementing regulation, ``Protection of Historic Properties'' (36 
CFR part 800). Any party wishing to participate directly with RUS as a 
``consulting party'' in Section 106 review may submit a written request 
to the RUS contact provided below. Pursuant to 36 CFR 800.3(f)(3), RUS 
will consider, and provide a timely response to any and all requests 
for consulting party status.
    Badger State Solar proposes to construct, install, operate, and 
maintain a 149-megawatt photovoltaic Alternating Current solar energy 
generating facility on a site in the Townships of Jefferson and 
Oakland, in Jefferson County, Wisconsin. The proposed project is 
approximately 1,750 acres located on the north and south sides of U.S. 
Highway 18, approximately 2-miles west of the City of Jefferson and 
west of State Highway 89. The collector substation would be located in 
the Primary Development Area. Site land cover is predominantly 
agricultural crops and pasture, with some forest and wetland.
    Construction involves the installation on leased lands of 127,752 
single-axis tracking PV panels in the Primary Project area. The PV 
panels would be mounted on a steel racking frame. Supporting facilities 
include an electrical substation. The lease agreement allows for an 
operating period of 40 years. A power purchase agreement (PPA) has been 
executed with Dairyland Power Cooperative for the entire output of the 
Project. The proposed site is near the point of interconnection to the 
grid at the American Transmission Company Jefferson substation near the 
intersection of State Trunk Highway 89 and U.S. Highway 18.
    Construction equipment would include graders, bulldozers, 
excavators, forklifts, trailers, plows, trenchers, pile drivers, and 
directional boring rigs. Vehicles for transporting construction 
materials and components primarily would be legal load over-the road 
flatbed and box trucks. Transport would use existing regional roads, 
bridges, and intersections. Laydown areas would be established within 
the Project site. Internal site access roads would be required. The 
site would be fenced. Overhead collector circuits would not be 
required.
    Badger State has submitted an Application for a Certificate of 
Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) to the Public Service 
Commission of Wisconsin (PSC). Consultations have been conducted with 
the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and an endangered 
resource review (ER) has been submitted to the agency. Consultations 
with other agencies include the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), 
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency (USEPA), and informal consultation with the U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Badger State has consulted property 
owners, local town and county officials and staff, state elected 
representatives, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer 
Protection, and engaged the general public.
    Among the alternatives that RUS will address in the EIS is the No 
Action alternative, under which the proposal would not be undertaken or 
if RUS did not fund the proposed Project, and any reasonable 
alternatives defined as a result of the scoping process. In the EIS, 
the effects of the proposal will be compared to the existing conditions 
in the affected area of the proposal. Public health and safety, 
environmental impacts, socio-economic, and engineering aspects of the 
proposal will also be considered in the EIS.
    As part of its broad environmental review process, RUS must take 
into account the effect of the proposal on historic properties in 
accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act 
(Section 106) and its implementing regulation, ``Protection of Historic 
Properties'' (36 CFR part 800). Pursuant to 36 CFR 800.2(d)(3), RUS is 
using its procedures for public involvement under NEPA to meet its 
responsibilities to solicit and consider the views of the public during 
Section 106 review. Accordingly, comments submitted in response to this 
Notice will inform RUS decision-making during Section 106 review.
    From information provided in the studies mentioned above, and using 
input provided by government agencies, tribes, and the public, RUS will 
prepare a Draft EIS. The Draft EIS will be filed with the U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and will be available for 
public comment by the Fall 2021. At that time, the RUS and USEPA will 
publish a notice of the availability of the Draft EIS and notice of 
receipt, respectively, in the Federal Register. In addition, the Badger 
State Solar will publish notices in local newspapers and any online 
local news sources. The comment period for the DEIS will be 45 days 
from the date the EPA publishes its Federal Register notice announcing 
receipt of the Draft EIS.
    To assist the involved federal agencies in identifying and 
considering issues and concerns on the proposal, comments on the Draft 
EIS should be as specific as possible. It is also helpful if the 
comments refer to the specific pages or chapters of the Draft EIS. 
Comments may also address the adequacy of the Draft EIS or the merits 
of the alternatives formulated and discussed in the statement. 
Reviewers may wish to refer to the CEQ's regulations at 40 CFR 1503.3 
in addressing these points. After the comment period ends on the Draft 
EIS, the comments will be analyzed, considered, and responded to by the 
agencies involved in preparing the Final EIS.
    The public will again have the opportunity to review and comment on 
the Final EIS. Upon completion of a 30-day public comment period, the 
RUS will document its decision regarding the proposed Project and 
reasons for the decision in a Record of Decision. A public notice 
announcing the availability of the Record of Decision

[[Page 54920]]

will be published in the Federal Register and local newspapers.
    Any final action by RUS related to the proposal will be subject to, 
and contingent upon, compliance with all relevant executive orders and 
federal, state, and local environmental laws and regulations in 
addition to the completion of the environmental review requirements as 
prescribed in RUS Environmental Policies and Procedures, 7 CFR part 
1970.

Christopher A. McLean,
Acting Administrator, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of 
Agriculture.
[FR Doc. 2021-21579 Filed 10-4-21; 8:45 am]
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