Central Electric Power Cooperative, Inc.: Notice of Intent and Availability of a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Notice to Hold a Public Meeting
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has issued a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Supplemental Draft EIS) for Central Electric Power Cooperative's (Central Electric) proposed McClellanville Area 115-kV Transmission Project (Project) in South Carolina. In this document, RUS analyzes the environmental impacts associated with an anticipated decision request to approve or deny funding for Central Electric's proposed Project. The Supplement Draft EIS was prepared to address substantial changes to the proposed action and assesses new circumstances and information relevant to potential environmental impacts originally evaluated in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS). In April 2014, RUS issued a Draft EIS that evaluated six 115-kV transmission line corridors originating in Georgetown County, South Carolina and terminating in the McClellanville area of Charleston County, South Carolina. Since publication of the Draft EIS, updated engineering data has resulted in substantial changes to the proposed action, including the need to evaluate new transmission line corridors originating from the Jamestown and Charity areas of Berkeley County, South Carolina, and to account for a new winter weather operating agreement between the former South Carolina Electric and Gas (now Dominion Energy South Carolina) and Berkeley Electric Cooperative that addresses load concerns during the winter months. In addition, the following changes made it necessary to supplement the Draft EIS: The promulgation of a new environmental regulation applicable to RUS (7 CFR part 1970, which replaced the former 7 CFR part 1794, RUS Environmental Policies and Procedures), issuance and implementation of Executive Order 13807: ``Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects'' (known as the ``One Federal Decision Executive Order''), and publication of the Francis Marion National Forest's Forest Plan. The Supplemental Draft EIS addresses the construction, operation, and maintenance of Central Electric's proposed Project. The Project includes the construction of a new 115 kV transmission line needed to energize the new McClellanville Substation located near the McClellanville service area. The Supplemental Draft EIS considers three alternatives, encompassing three potential corridor locations with one corridor including two different alignments. The overall project area encompasses parts of Berkeley, Georgetown and Charleston counties in coastal South Carolina, and potentially crosses the Francis Marion National Forest. The Supplemental Draft EIS has identified the potential for impacts to various resources, including wetlands, biological resources and cultural resources (including historic properties). Central Electric does not hold easements across these areas. Once a final right-of-way (ROW) is selected within the preferred corridor, coordination with federal and state agencies and other interested parties would occur to identify, evaluate and, if needed, mitigate any adverse effects. RUS will compile public comments received on the Supplemental Draft EIS and produce a Final EIS that considers and responds to those substantive public comments. Based on this analysis in additional to technical and financial reviews, RUS will decide to approve or deny an application for funding.