The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued a right-of-way grant to Alta Windpower Development, a subsidiary of Terra-Gen Power, to construct, operate, maintain and decommission a wind energy generation facility capable of generating up to 153 MW. To address potential impacts to sensitive species, the project will utilize cutting-edge technology to detect and avoid impacts to California condors and golden eagles.
The project would employ an estimated 260 workers during peak construction and create 15 permanent jobs. A 12.5-mile generation interconnection transmission line also is proposed to connect the project to Southern California Edison's substation.
The project would be located approximately three miles northwest of Mojave and approximately 11 miles east of Tehachapi and will encompass 1,999 acres of public lands.
Alta Windpower also submitted use-permit applications to Kern County for an additional 593 acres of private land, for a total project size of 2,592 acres. The number of turbines has been reduced by more than 50%, from the initial proposal of 106 turbines to 51 turbines, notes the BLM.
The BLM notes the developer is also taking comprehensive measures to protect California condors and golden eagles. Working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to implement key mitigation measures, Terra-Gen installed comprehensive condor detection and avoidance measures that greatly reduce risks to condors. Because of these measures, the FWS issued a biological opinion that finds that this project will not jeopardize the recovery of the California condor and allows for the take of a single condor over the 30-year lease to protect the BLM from violation of the Endangered Species Act should take occur.
In the unlikely event that a condor is struck by a turbine blade, the BLM will require Alta Windpower to cease daytime operations and implement additional measures to ensure that the project does not pose any further threat to condors.
As a further mitigation measure, Terra-Gen has committed to contributing to the Condor Recovery Program to help fund and implement a lead abatement program. Ingesting lead from spent ammunition is the single biggest cause of wild condor deaths. Terra-Gen's contribution will also help fund research to further resolve potential wind energy and condor conflict and other appropriate recovery actions for the 30-year life of the project.
For golden eagles, Terra-Gen has applied for a take permit from the FWS, and the BLM is requiring the implementation of a comprehensive Eagle Conservation Plan. In the unlikely event that an eagle is struck by a turbine blade prior to Alta Windpower obtaining a take permit, the BLM will require Alta Windpower to implement additional measures to ensure that this project does not pose any further threat until such permit is issued.