Badger State Solar, LLC; Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Notice of Public Meeting, 11405-11407 [2022-04203]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 40 / Tuesday, March 1, 2022 / Notices through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877–8339. To file a program discrimination complaint, a complainant should complete a Form AD–3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, which can be obtained online at https://www.ocio.usda.gov/document/ ad-3027, from any USDA office, by calling (866) 632–9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of the alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD–3027 form or letter must be submitted to USDA by: (1) Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250–9410; (2) Fax: (833) 256–1665 or (202) 690– 7442; or (3) Email: program.intake@usda.gov. Karama Neal, Administrator, Rural Business-Cooperative Service. [FR Doc. 2022–04293 Filed 2–28–22; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–XY–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Utilities Service [Docket #: RUS–22–ELECTRIC–0011] Badger State Solar, LLC; Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Notice of Public Meeting Rural Utilities Service, USDA. Notice of availability of a draft environmental impact statement and notice of public meeting. AGENCY: ACTION: The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) announces that a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a project proposed by Badger State Solar, LLC is available for public review and comment. RUS is publishing the Draft EIS to inform interested parties and the general public about the project proposal and to invite the public to comment on the scope, Proposed Action, and other issues addressed in the Draft EIS. The Draft EIS was prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended, Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations for implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA, and jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with NOTICES1 SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:01 Feb 28, 2022 Jkt 256001 RUS, Environmental Policies and Procedures and evaluates the potential direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental effects related to providing financial assistance for the Badger State Solar, LLC’s Alternating Current solar project (Project). Badger State Solar intends to request financial assistance from RUS for the Proposed Action and information contained in the EIS will serve as a basis for the decision regarding whether to provide the requested financial assistance. RUS has determined that its action regarding the Proposed Action is an undertaking subject to review under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and its implementing regulation, ‘‘Protection of Historic Properties’’ and as part of its broad environmental review process, RUS must take into account the effect of the Proposed Action on historic properties. 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. DATES: Written comments on this Draft EIS must be received during the comment period, which begins March 4th and ends April 18th. A public meeting to solicit comments on the Draft EIS will be held in a virtual format on Tuesday, March 22nd, at 7 p.m. EST via Zoom. Written comments may be submitted via email to BadgerStateSolarEIS@usda.gov or by mail as noted in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this notice. Those wishing to attend the meeting are invited to register online at the virtual public meeting room website https://badgerstatesolar.consultation.ai. An email will be sent to registrants with information for how to access the meeting. Attendees will be able to provide oral and written comments during the meeting. Oral comments from the public will be recorded by a certified court reporter. The virtual public meeting room is an interactive website which will be available throughout the public comment period. Attendees will also be able to submit written comments through the virtual public meeting room website. All comments submitted during the public review period, oral or written, will become part of the public record. Before including your address, telephone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 11405 be made publicly available at any time. All comments will be reviewed and responded to in the Final EIS. For consideration in the Final EIS, comments must be postmarked or received online by 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, April 18th. ADDRESSES: The Draft EIS and other Project-related information is available at RUS’s and Badger State Solar’s websites located at: https:// www.rd.usda.gov/resources/ environmental-studies/impactstatements, https://badgerstatesolar. consultation.ai, and https:// www.badgerstatesolar.com. In addition, hard copies of the documents are 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. Parties wishing to be placed on the mailing list for future information or to receive hard or electronic copies of the EIS should also contact the person contact below. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Questions can be directed to Peter Steinour, 202–961–6140, BadgerStateSolarEIS@usda.gov during the open comment period. Comments submitted after the comment period may not be considered by the agency. This email address may also be used to request consulting party status and to inquire about additional information. Written comments may also be submitted by mail to United States Department of Agriculture, Attention: Peter Steinour, Mail Stop 1570, Rural Utilities Service, WEP/EES, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20250 during the open comment period. Comments submitted after the comment period may not be considered by the agency. This mail address may also be used to request consulting party status and to inquire about additional information. 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/impactstatements, https://badgerstatesolar. consultation.ai, and https:// www.badgerstatesolar.com. 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: 1. Agencies Involved and Status Rural Utilities Service, Lead Agency United States Army Corps of Engineers, Consulting Party for Section 106 E:\FR\FM\01MRN1.SGM 01MRN1 11406 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 40 / Tuesday, March 1, 2022 / Notices United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Participating Agency jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with NOTICES1 2. Project Description and Location 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 Action involves approximately 1,200 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. Site land cover is predominantly agricultural crops and pasture, with some forest and wetland. Bader State Solar estimates the total project cost will be approximately $225,000,000. Project construction would begin in October 2022. Construction would be complete and the project would be expected to come online by Fall 2023. Construction involves the installation on leased lands of 487,848 single-axis tracking PV panels. 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. 3. Purpose and Need for the Action The Rural Electrification Act of 1936 (REA), as amended (7 U.S.C. 901 et seq.) authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to make rural electrification and telecommunication loans, and specifies eligible borrowers, references, purposes, terms and conditions, and security requirements. RUS is authorized to make loans and loan guarantees to finance the construction of electric distribution, transmission, and VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:01 Feb 28, 2022 Jkt 256001 generation facilities, including system improvements and replacements required to furnish and improve electric service in rural areas, as well as demand-side management, electricity conservation programs, and on- and offgrid renewable electricity systems. The Applicant intends to request financing assistance from RUS for the Project’s 149–MW solar array in Jefferson County, Wisconsin. RUS’s proposed federal action is to decide whether to provide financing assistance for the Project. As part of its review process, RUS is required to complete the NEPA process along with other technical and financial considerations in processing the Applicant’s application. RUS agency actions include the following: 1. Provide engineering reviews of the purpose and need, engineering feasibility, and cost of the Project. 2. Ensure that the Project meets the borrower’s requirements and prudent utility practices. 3. Evaluate the financial ability of the borrower to repay its potential financial obligations to RUS. 4. Ensure that NEPA and other environmental laws and requirements and RUS environmental policies and procedures are satisfied prior to taking a federal action. While RUS is authorized under REA to finance electric generation infrastructure in rural areas, it is the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (MISO), not RUS, who is responsible for electric grid planning. Supporting renewable energy projects meets both RUS’s goal to support infrastructure development in rural communities and USDA’s support of the June 2013 Climate Action Plan, which encourages voluntary actions to increase energy independence. The Applicant’s purpose and need for the Proposed Action is to develop a utility-scale solar facility in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, to replace load demand on local utilities, including Dairyland Power, resulting from coalfired power plant closures or scheduled decommissioning. 4. Issues of Concern In the EIS, the effects of the proposal are compared to the existing conditions in the affected area of the proposal. Issues of concern evaluated in the EIS include soils and geology, water resources, air quality, acoustic environment, biological resources, land resources, visual resources, transportation, cultural resources, site contamination public health and safety, socioeconomics, and environmental justice. PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 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. The USFWS concurred that the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect, whooping crane. The USFWS concurred that Project minimization measures during constriction are expected to avoid or minimize disturbance to the whooping cranes and that minor loss of stopover and feeding habitat would not be likely to negatively impact the species. Additionally, the USFWS concurred that the Project is consistent with activities analyzed in the Programmatic Biological Opinion for the northern long-eared bat. Finally, the USFWS provided guidance on National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines and incidental take permits, recommendations for site selection and layout, and recommendations for project construction. 5. Alternatives To Be Considered Potential locations for development of the solar facility in Wisconsin were evaluated in an initial preliminary site review to identify locations where electric transmission infrastructure would be sufficient to connect a solar project to the power grid. The Site Selection Study consisted of three phases of evaluation which began with 18 potential sites and ended with the identification of the proposed site in Jefferson County as the most feasible for consideration. The potential impacts of the No Action Alternative and the Proposed Action, construction of the Badger State Solar project in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, are analyzed in detail. 6. Overview of the Scoping Process RUS is using its procedures for public involvement under NEPA to meet its responsibilities to solicit and consider E:\FR\FM\01MRN1.SGM 01MRN1 jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with NOTICES1 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 40 / Tuesday, March 1, 2022 / Notices 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. As noted in the Federal Register notice announcing the intent to prepare an EIS on October 5, 2021, the RUS invited any interested party wishing to participate directly with the agency 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. The Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare the Badger State Solar EIS and to hold a virtual public scoping meeting was published in the Federal Register on October 5, 2021, initiating the 30-day public scoping period. The NOI also announced a virtual public scoping meeting held on October 26. The NOI is provided in the Scoping Report. In addition to the NOI, a notice was published in the Daily Jefferson County Union and Watertown Daily Times newspapers published on October 6, 7, and 8, 2021. The NOI and other project information (including the Alternative Evaluation and Site Selection Studies) was available for review on the RUS and Badger State Solar websites (https:// www.rd.usda.gov/resources/ environmental-studies/impactstatements, https://badgerstatesolar. consultation.ai, and https://www.badger statesolar.com) and also at the following locations (Jefferson Public Library in Jefferson, WI; the Cambridge Community Library in Cambridge, WI and the Lake Mills Library in Lake Mills, WI). RUS hosted the virtual public scoping meeting on October 26. RUS also hosted an interagency meeting on October 28. In addition to the public involvement process described above, Badger State Solar consulted with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and an endangered resource review has been submitted to the agency. Badger State Solar also consulted with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), property owners, local town and county officials and staff, state elected representatives, and Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection. RUS has initiated consultation with the Wisconsin State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and informal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). RUS initiated informal consultation with the USFWS in a letter dated October 15, VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:01 Feb 28, 2022 Jkt 256001 2021. USFWS concurred with the finding that the Proposed Action may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect listed or proposed species or designated critical habitat in an email dated December 21, 2021. A summary of the scoping process and public input is provided in the Draft EIS. 7. Decision Process The Draft EIS will be available for review and comment for 45 days. Following the 45-day review period, RUS will prepare a Final EIS. All comments received on the Draft EIS will be duly considered in preparing the Final EIS, which is expected to be available by August 2022. The availability of the Final EIS for public review will be announced in the Federal Register and the local newspapers used in previous public notices. After publication of the Final EIS a Record of Decision (ROD) will be prepared documenting the Agency’s decision regarding Badger State Solar’s request for financial assistance. Notices announcing the availability of the ROD will be published in the Federal Register and in 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. 2022–04203 Filed 2–28–22; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–15–P COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Notice of Public Meeting of the Pennsylvania Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. ACTION: Announcement of meeting. AGENCY: Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission) and the Federal Advisory Committee Act that the Pennsylvania Advisory Committee (Committee) to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will hold a meeting on Friday April 8, 2022 at 12:00 p.m. Eastern time. The Committee will continue to discuss civil rights and fair housing in the state. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 11407 The meeting will take place on Friday April 8, 2022 from 12:00 p.m.– 1:00 p.m. Eastern time. Online Regisration (Audio/Visual): https://bit.ly/3HPpBoV. Telephone (Audio Only): Dial 800– 360–9505 USA Toll Free; Access code: 2761 149 6319. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Melissa Wojnaroski, DFO, at mwojnaroski@usccr.gov or 312–353– 8311. DATES: Members of the public may listen to these discussions. Committee meetings are available to the public through the above listed online registration link or call in number. Any interested member of the public may call this number and listen to the meeting. An open comment period will be provided to allow members of the public to make a statement as time allows. Callers can expect to incur regular charges for calls they initiate over wireless lines, according to their wireless plan. The Commission will not refund any incurred charges. Callers will incur no charge for calls they initiate over landline connections to the toll-free telephone number. Individuals who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing may also follow the proceedings by first calling the Federal Relay Service at 1– 800–877–8339 and providing the Service with the conference call number and conference ID number. Members of the public are also entitled to submit written comments; the comments must be received in the regional office within 30 days following the meeting. Written comments may be emailed to Corrine Sanders at csanders@ usccr.gov. Persons who desire additional information may contact the Regional Programs Unit at (312) 353– 8311. Records generated from this meeting may be inspected and reproduced at the Regional Programs Unit Office, as they become available, both before and after the meeting. Records of the meeting will be available via www.facadatabase.gov under the Commission on Civil Rights, Pennsylvania Advisory Committee link. Persons interested in the work of this Committee are directed to the Commission’s website, http:// www.usccr.gov, or may contact the Regional Programs Unit at the above email or street address. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Agenda Welcome and Roll Call Discussion: Civil Rights and Fair Housing in Pennsylvania Future Plans and Actions Public Comment E:\FR\FM\01MRN1.SGM 01MRN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 87, Number 40 (Tuesday, March 1, 2022)]
[Notices]
[Pages 11405-11407]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2022-04203]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Rural Utilities Service

[Docket #: RUS-22-ELECTRIC-0011]


Badger State Solar, LLC; Notice of Availability of a Draft 
Environmental Impact Statement and Notice of Public Meeting

AGENCY: Rural Utilities Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of availability of a draft environmental impact 
statement and notice of public meeting.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) announces that a Draft 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a project proposed by Badger 
State Solar, LLC is available for public review and comment. RUS is 
publishing the Draft EIS to inform interested parties and the general 
public about the project proposal and to invite the public to comment 
on the scope, Proposed Action, and other issues addressed in the Draft 
EIS. The Draft EIS was prepared in accordance with the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended, Council on 
Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations for implementing the procedural 
provisions of NEPA, and RUS, Environmental Policies and Procedures and 
evaluates the potential direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental 
effects related to providing financial assistance for the Badger State 
Solar, LLC's Alternating Current solar project (Project). Badger State 
Solar intends to request financial assistance from RUS for the Proposed 
Action and information contained in the EIS will serve as a basis for 
the decision regarding whether to provide the requested financial 
assistance. RUS has determined that its action regarding the Proposed 
Action is an undertaking subject to review under Section 106 of the 
National Historic Preservation Act and its implementing regulation, 
``Protection of Historic Properties'' and as part of its broad 
environmental review process, RUS must take into account the effect of 
the Proposed Action on historic properties. 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.

DATES: Written comments on this Draft EIS must be received during the 
comment period, which begins March 4th and ends April 18th. A public 
meeting to solicit comments on the Draft EIS will be held in a virtual 
format on Tuesday, March 22nd, at 7 p.m. EST via Zoom. Written comments 
may be submitted via email to [email protected] or by mail 
as noted in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this notice.
    Those wishing to attend the meeting are invited to register online 
at the virtual public meeting room website https://badgerstatesolar.consultation.ai. An email will be sent to registrants 
with information for how to access the meeting. Attendees will be able 
to provide oral and written comments during the meeting. Oral comments 
from the public will be recorded by a certified court reporter. The 
virtual public meeting room is an interactive website which will be 
available throughout the public comment period. Attendees will also be 
able to submit written comments through the virtual public meeting room 
website. All comments submitted during the public review period, oral 
or written, will become part of the public record. Before including 
your address, telephone number, email address, or other personal 
identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your 
entire comment--including your personal identifying information--may be 
made publicly available at any time. All comments will be reviewed and 
responded to in the Final EIS. For consideration in the Final EIS, 
comments must be postmarked or received online by 11:59 p.m. EST on 
Monday, April 18th.

ADDRESSES: The Draft EIS and other Project-related information is 
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.
    In addition, hard copies of the documents are 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. 
Parties wishing to be placed on the mailing list for future information 
or to receive hard or electronic copies of the EIS should also contact 
the person contact below.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Questions can be directed to Peter 
Steinour, 202-961-6140, [email protected] during the open 
comment period. Comments submitted after the comment period may not be 
considered by the agency. This email address may also be used to 
request consulting party status and to inquire about additional 
information.
    Written comments may also be submitted by mail to United States 
Department of Agriculture, Attention: Peter Steinour, Mail Stop 1570, 
Rural Utilities Service, WEP/EES, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, 
Washington, DC 20250 during the open comment period. Comments submitted 
after the comment period may not be considered by the agency. This mail 
address may also be used to request consulting party status and to 
inquire about additional information.
    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.
    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:

1. Agencies Involved and Status

Rural Utilities Service, Lead Agency
United States Army Corps of Engineers, Consulting Party for Section 106

[[Page 11406]]

United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Participating Agency

2. Project Description and Location

    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 Action involves 
approximately 1,200 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. Site land cover is predominantly agricultural 
crops and pasture, with some forest and wetland. Bader State Solar 
estimates the total project cost will be approximately $225,000,000. 
Project construction would begin in October 2022. Construction would be 
complete and the project would be expected to come online by Fall 2023.
    Construction involves the installation on leased lands of 487,848 
single-axis tracking PV panels. 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.

3. Purpose and Need for the Action

    The Rural Electrification Act of 1936 (REA), as amended (7 U.S.C. 
901 et seq.) authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to make rural 
electrification and telecommunication loans, and specifies eligible 
borrowers, references, purposes, terms and conditions, and security 
requirements. RUS is authorized to make loans and loan guarantees to 
finance the construction of electric distribution, transmission, and 
generation facilities, including system improvements and replacements 
required to furnish and improve electric service in rural areas, as 
well as demand-side management, electricity conservation programs, and 
on- and off-grid renewable electricity systems.
    The Applicant intends to request financing assistance from RUS for 
the Project's 149-MW solar array in Jefferson County, Wisconsin. RUS's 
proposed federal action is to decide whether to provide financing 
assistance for the Project.
    As part of its review process, RUS is required to complete the NEPA 
process along with other technical and financial considerations in 
processing the Applicant's application. RUS agency actions include the 
following:
    1. Provide engineering reviews of the purpose and need, engineering 
feasibility, and cost of the Project.
    2. Ensure that the Project meets the borrower's requirements and 
prudent utility practices.
    3. Evaluate the financial ability of the borrower to repay its 
potential financial obligations to RUS.
    4. Ensure that NEPA and other environmental laws and requirements 
and RUS environmental policies and procedures are satisfied prior to 
taking a federal action.
    While RUS is authorized under REA to finance electric generation 
infrastructure in rural areas, it is the Midcontinent Independent 
System Operator, Inc. (MISO), not RUS, who is responsible for electric 
grid planning. Supporting renewable energy projects meets both RUS's 
goal to support infrastructure development in rural communities and 
USDA's support of the June 2013 Climate Action Plan, which encourages 
voluntary actions to increase energy independence.
    The Applicant's purpose and need for the Proposed Action is to 
develop a utility-scale solar facility in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, 
to replace load demand on local utilities, including Dairyland Power, 
resulting from coal-fired power plant closures or scheduled 
decommissioning.

4. Issues of Concern

    In the EIS, the effects of the proposal are compared to the 
existing conditions in the affected area of the proposal. Issues of 
concern evaluated in the EIS include soils and geology, water 
resources, air quality, acoustic environment, biological resources, 
land resources, visual resources, transportation, cultural resources, 
site contamination public health and safety, socioeconomics, and 
environmental justice.
    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.
    The USFWS concurred that the proposed project may affect, but is 
not likely to adversely affect, whooping crane. The USFWS concurred 
that Project minimization measures during constriction are expected to 
avoid or minimize disturbance to the whooping cranes and that minor 
loss of stopover and feeding habitat would not be likely to negatively 
impact the species. Additionally, the USFWS concurred that the Project 
is consistent with activities analyzed in the Programmatic Biological 
Opinion for the northern long-eared bat. Finally, the USFWS provided 
guidance on National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines and incidental 
take permits, recommendations for site selection and layout, and 
recommendations for project construction.

5. Alternatives To Be Considered

    Potential locations for development of the solar facility in 
Wisconsin were evaluated in an initial preliminary site review to 
identify locations where electric transmission infrastructure would be 
sufficient to connect a solar project to the power grid. The Site 
Selection Study consisted of three phases of evaluation which began 
with 18 potential sites and ended with the identification of the 
proposed site in Jefferson County as the most feasible for 
consideration. The potential impacts of the No Action Alternative and 
the Proposed Action, construction of the Badger State Solar project in 
Jefferson County, Wisconsin, are analyzed in detail.

6. Overview of the Scoping Process

    RUS is using its procedures for public involvement under NEPA to 
meet its responsibilities to solicit and consider

[[Page 11407]]

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. As noted in the Federal Register 
notice announcing the intent to prepare an EIS on October 5, 2021, the 
RUS invited any interested party wishing to participate directly with 
the agency 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.
    The Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare the Badger State Solar EIS 
and to hold a virtual public scoping meeting was published in the 
Federal Register on October 5, 2021, initiating the 30-day public 
scoping period. The NOI also announced a virtual public scoping meeting 
held on October 26. The NOI is provided in the Scoping Report. In 
addition to the NOI, a notice was published in the Daily Jefferson 
County Union and Watertown Daily Times newspapers published on October 
6, 7, and 8, 2021.
    The NOI and other project information (including the Alternative 
Evaluation and Site Selection Studies) was available for review on the 
RUS and Badger State Solar websites (https://www.rd.usda.gov/resources/environmental-studies/impact-statements, https://badgerstatesolar.consultation.ai, and https://www.badgerstatesolar.com) 
and also at the following locations (Jefferson Public Library in 
Jefferson, WI; the Cambridge Community Library in Cambridge, WI and the 
Lake Mills Library in Lake Mills, WI).
    RUS hosted the virtual public scoping meeting on October 26. RUS 
also hosted an interagency meeting on October 28. In addition to the 
public involvement process described above, Badger State Solar 
consulted with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and 
an endangered resource review has been submitted to the agency. Badger 
State Solar also consulted with the Federal Aviation Administration 
(FAA), property owners, local town and county officials and staff, 
state elected representatives, and Wisconsin Department of Agriculture 
Trade and Consumer Protection. RUS has initiated consultation with the 
Wisconsin State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), Natural Resources 
Conservation Service (NRCS), and informal consultation with the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). RUS initiated informal consultation 
with the USFWS in a letter dated October 15, 2021. USFWS concurred with 
the finding that the Proposed Action may affect, but is not likely to 
adversely affect listed or proposed species or designated critical 
habitat in an email dated December 21, 2021. A summary of the scoping 
process and public input is provided in the Draft EIS.

7. Decision Process

    The Draft EIS will be available for review and comment for 45 days. 
Following the 45-day review period, RUS will prepare a Final EIS. All 
comments received on the Draft EIS will be duly considered in preparing 
the Final EIS, which is expected to be available by August 2022. The 
availability of the Final EIS for public review will be announced in 
the Federal Register and the local newspapers used in previous public 
notices. After publication of the Final EIS a Record of Decision (ROD) 
will be prepared documenting the Agency's decision regarding Badger 
State Solar's request for financial assistance. Notices announcing the 
availability of the ROD will be published in the Federal Register and 
in 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. 2022-04203 Filed 2-28-22; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-15-P