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Whistling Ridge Energy Project (DOE/EIS-0419)
Skamania County, Washington

PROJECT DESCRIPTION:

Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) has been asked by Whistling Ridge Energy LLC to interconnect its proposed Whistling Ridge Energy Project in Skamania County, Washington, to the Federal Columbia River Transmission System (FCRTS).

In June 2002, SDS Lumber Company submitted a generation interconnection request for 75-MW on the North Bonneville-Midway 230-kV transmission line approximately five miles west of BPA's Underwood Substation. Subsequently, SDS Lumber Company created a new limited liability company called Whistling Ridge Energy LLC, which submitted an application with the Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) for site certification for the wind project, and continued the request to BPA for interconnection. Whistling Ridge Energy LLC intends to finance, develop, own and operate the wind project. In its EFSEC application, Whistling Ridge Energy LLC proposed a wind facility consisting of up to approximately 50, 1.2- to 2.5-MW wind turbines up to 426 feet tall, as well as infrastructure such as newly-constructed and improved roads, transformers, underground collector lines, a substation, and an operations and maintenance (O&M) facility.

To inform its decision on whether to allow the proposed interconnection, BPA prepared a joint environmental impact statement (EIS) with EFSEC. This joint SEPA/NEPA EIS allowed the coordination of EFSEC actions with federal actions in fulfillment of EFSEC's SEPA rules at Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 463-47-150. This joint EIS also is consistent with NEPA implementing regulations specifying that federal agencies cooperate with state and local agencies to the fullest extent possible, including by preparing joint state-federal EISs, to avoid duplication between NEPA and comparable state requirements (See 40 CFR § 1506.2).

While EFSEC and BPA are the entities that have prepared the EIS, these agencies have worked collaboratively with Whistling Ridge Energy LLC to obtain necessary information about the project and its potential impacts for the EIS. Initially, EFSEC had intended to allow Whistling Ridge Energy LLC to prepare the EIS, as allowed by SEPA; however, after public concern was raised, EFSEC and BPA decided that the lead agencies would be directly responsible for preparing the EIS. Accordingly, we have used environmental information provided by Whistling Ridge Energy LLC and its consultants in the EIS as appropriate. All such information has been independently evaluated and reviewed for accuracy by the lead agencies, as well as by an independent, third party consultant retained by EFSEC.

The final environmental impact statement (FEIS) was issued for the proposed Whistling Ridge Energy Project in August 2011. EFSEC and BPA worked together to ensure that the FEIS meets the requirements of both SEPA and NEPA. The FEIS describes the proposed Project and the environmental effects expected from both the proposed wind facility as well as BPA's proposed interconnection and substation facilities.

In March 2012, Whistling Ridge Energy LLC's wind project was approved for construction and operation by the Governor of the State of Washington, based on the recommendation of EFSEC, which is the siting authority for the wind project. The Governor of Washington approved issuance of the Whistling Ridge Project site certificate but denied 15 proposed turbine sites associated with two "strings" of turbines - string A-1 through A-7 and string C-1 through C-8. These two turbine strings were not approved primarily due to concerns about their impacts on the aesthetic and cultural heritage of the area due to the prominent visibility of these turbines from the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (Scenic Area) as well as other portions of the Columbia River Gorge. By authorizing up to 35 turbines, the final site certificate executed by the Washington Governor and Whistling Ridge Energy LLC reflects the denial of the two turbine strings.

A legal challenge regarding the Governor and EFSEC's approval of the site certificate subsequently was filed in state court. The Washington State Supreme Court upheld the Governor's approval of the Project.

CURRENT STATUS:

BPA has decided to offer Whistling Ridge Energy LLC contract terms for interconnection of Whistling Ridge Energy LLC's Whistling Ridge Energy Project with the FCRTS. In support of this decision, BPA completed a Supplement Analysis (SA) on June 15, 2015. The SA assessed whether there have been substantial changes to the Project or significant new circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns since completion of the Final EIS for the Project. The SA found that there have been no such changes, circumstances, or information and that further environmental documentation thus is not required.

CONTACT:

For environmental-related information, contact:
Katey Grange
Environmental Protection Specialist

Bonneville Power Administration - ECT-4
P.O. Box 3621
Portland, OR 97208-3621
Toll-free:
Direct line:
Email:
800-622-4519
503-230-4047
kcgrange@bpa.gov

For project information, contact:

Amy M. Gardner
Project Manager

Bonneville Power Administration - TEP-TPP-1
P.O. Box 61409
Vancouver, WA 98666-1409
Toll-free:
Direct line:
Email:
800-622-4519
360-619-6154 
amgardner@bpa.gov

DOCUMENTS:

RECORD OF DECISION:
Public Letter               (06/30/2015)
Record of Decision      (06/24/2015)
Mitigation Action Plan   (June 2015)

SUPPLEMENT ANALYSIS:
June 2015 Supplement Analysis     (06/15/2015)

POST FINAL EIS COMMENTS
(Comments Received After Final EIS Publication):
Friends of the Gorge      (March 2015)
Friends of the Gorge      (January 2015)
Friends of the Gorge      (July 2014)
Friends of the Gorge      (April 2012)
Friends of the Gorge      (November 2011)
Seattle Audubon            (October 2011)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency      (October 2011)
Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation     (September 2011)
Skamania County Noxious Weed Control Board              (August 2011)

FINAL EIS:
Public Letter                  (08/23/2011)
Final EIS                       (August 2011)
Appendices A-B
Appendices C-F 
Appendix G   
Appendix H 

DRAFT EIS:
Draft EIS comments received
Public Letter                                                       (05/25/2010)
Comment Form                                                  (05/25/2010)
Draft EIS
Cover & Table of Contents                                    (05/21/2010)
Chapter 1 - Summary, Purpose and Need for Action  (05/21/2010)
Chapter 2 - Proposed Actions and Alternatives         (05/21/2010)
Chapter 3 - Affected Environment                           (05/21/2010)
Chapter 4 - Environmental Consultation, Review, and Permitting Requirements     (05/21/2010)
Chapter 5 - Distribution List                                  (05/21/2010)
Chapter 6 - List of Preparers                                 (05/21/2010)
Chapter 7 - Index                                                 (05/21/2010)
Appendix A - Site Certification Application                 (05/21/2010)
Appendix B - Geotechnical Reports                         (05/21/2010)
Appendix C - Wildlife Reports                                 (05/21/2010)
Appendix D - Land Use Consistency                       (05/21/2010)
Appendix E - Historic and Cultural Resources           (05/21/2010)
Appendix F - Consultant Disclosure Statements        (05/21/2010)
Updated Project Vicinity Map                                  (05/05/2010)

SCOPING:
Scoping comments received
PublicLetter                    (04/17/2009)
Comment Form               (04/17/2009)
Project Vicinity Map           (04/17/2009)

NOTICE OF INTENT:
Notice of Intent                 (04/21/2009)