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E-M:/ Wind Farm proposal

[Federal Register: September 12, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 178)]
[Page 52945-52947]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

Forest Service

Huron-Manistee National Forests, Michigan, White Pines Wind Farm

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement.


SUMMARY: The Forest Service has accepted an application for a special
use authorization from White Pines Wind Farm LLC for the installation
and operation of 20 to 28 wind turbines and associated infrastructure
to provide between 50 and 70 megawatts (MW) of wind energy on National
Forest System (NFS) lands managed by the Huron-Manistee National
Forests. The White Pines Wind Farm Project (the Project) would occupy
approximately 75 acres of NFS land within a Project Area of about
10,000 acres on the Cadillac-Manistee Ranger District over its proposed
30-year life.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received
by October 12, 2008. The draft environmental impact statement is
expected May 2009 and the final environmental impact statement is
expected December 2009.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Patricia O'Connell,
Interdisciplinary Team Leader, Cadillac-Manistee Ranger District,
Huron-Manistee National Forests, 412 Red Apple Road, Manistee, MI
49660; fax: 231-723-8642. Send electronic comments to: comments-

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Patricia O'Connell, Cadillac-Manistee
Ranger District, Huron-Manistee National Forests; telephone: 231-723-
2211, ext. 3119; fax: 231-723-8642. See address above under ADDRESSES.
Copies of documents may be requested at the same address. Another means
of obtaining information is to visit the Forest Web page at http://
www.fs.fed.us/r9/hmnf then click on ``Project and Planning,'' then
``Cadillac and Manistee Projects,'' and then ``White Pines Wind Farm


Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose of this project is to respond to an application for a
special use authorization submitted by White Pines Wind Farm LLC to
develop a wind farm on National Forest System lands within the Huron-
Manistee National Forests. White Pines Wind Farm LLC proposes to
generate 50 to 70 MW of wind energy by constructing and operating
between 20 and 28 wind turbines, in proximity to existing distribution
facilities (utility grid), in an area with an adequate wind resource on
National Forest System lands with consolidated ownership. The proposed
project is needed to help meet Michigan's and the region's growing
demand for reliable sources of clean, cost-effective, renewable energy.
The project is consistent with the Huron-Manistee National Forests'
Land and Resource Management Plan and with Forest Service objectives
for management of special uses on National Forest System lands.

Proposed Action

    White Pines is proposing to install and operate the Project on land
located mostly within the boundaries of the Huron-Manistee National
Forests. The Project proposes construction of the wind turbines and
associated infrastructure in April 2010, with an anticipated in-service
date of December

[[Page 52946]]

2010, and operation of the facility for an estimated service life of 30
    The vast majority of the Project's facilities and activities would
occur on National Forest System lands on the Cadillac-Manistee Ranger
District of the Forest. A portion of the Project's transmission line
route would be located off of National Forest System lands. In
addition, it would be necessary to expand the public road system to
support development of the Project.
    The Project would consist of the construction, installation,
operation, and maintenance of 28 new state-of-the-art 2.5 MW wind
turbines, which would have a combined power generating capacity of 70
MW (at peak capacity). The Project is proposing to use the Clipper
Class II Liberty Series 2.5 MW Wind Turbine, which are manufactured
domestically in Iowa. It is feasible that a higher megawatt turbine
could become available and be utilized for this Project. If available
in the future, turbines with a larger capacity would be located within
the existing array plan footprint and would not affect the overall
maximum Project power generating capacity of 70 MW.
    Each turbine is comprised of three components--the tower, the
nacelle, and the rotor blades. The turbines use a tubular steel tower,
with a hub height of 262 feet. The tower is topped by the nacelle,
which houses the turbine's mechanical components. The rotor, mounted on
the nacelle, consists of three fiberglass blades 153 feet in length and
has a rotor diameter of 315 feet. The total height of the wind turbines
would be approximately 420 feet above a concrete foundation base. Each
turbine would be anchored to a 60 foot diameter concrete foundation of
which a 20-foot diameter pedestal would be visible above ground. A pad
mounted step-up transformer would be located on each concrete
foundation base to increase the voltage from each wind turbine
generator to 34.5 kilovolt (kV). The area of the total disturbed
footprint per turbine, including clearing and grubbing of vegetation,
would have a radius of approximately 125 feet, for an aggregate
footprint of about 1.1 acres per wind turbine foundation during
construction. Subsequent to construction, the turbine footprint area
would be reduced to less than 0.2 acres.
    In addition to the turbines, the Project would consist of the
following components:
     Approximately 9 miles of road reconstruction to existing
roads (3 miles of Forest Service roads and 6 miles of County roads) and
approximately 5 miles of new road construction would occur on NFS
lands. During construction of the Project, these roads would be widened
and cleared to approximately 40 feet to allow for equipment delivery
and crane transport between turbine locations. However, to allow for
the installation of the collection system and drainage, some of these
roads may be cleared to approximately 80 feet. Road reclamation and
revegetation would be performed at the end of construction to reduce
access roads to standards mutually agreed upon with the appropriate
road agencies (i.e., Forest Service and Mason County). Roads would
remain accessible, to the extent practicable, to the public. The new
roads for the Project would be permanent roads added to the road system
on NFS lands.
     Installation of over 40 miles of 34.5 kV underground
electrical interconnections between turbines to collect and deliver
electricity to a new substation. Where practicable, the underground
electrical collection system would be installed along the same right-
of-way (RoW) corridor as the access roads. In addition, fiber optic
communication lines would be installed along with the electrical
collection system to monitor the operation of the wind farm. No
additional clearing beyond that described for the roadway clearing
would be required for the installation of the electrical collection
system and fiber optic lines between turbines.
     A step-up transformer at each turbine location plus one
transformer for the electrical substation site. Each step-up
transformer would be located on the concrete foundation base.
     An electrical substation on a 5-acre parcel would be
constructed on NFS lands within the Project Area to step up the
electrical collection system voltage to the existing local transmission
line voltage.
     An above ground, 138 kV transmission line to connect the
proposed wind farm substation to the existing Pere Marquette-Stronach
138-kV transmission line running north-south and located east of the
Project Area. The transmission line would have a RoW corridor of
approximately 150 feet. Approximately 3 miles of the transmission line
would be located on NFS lands and approximately 2 miles of the line
would cross private lands.
     Three 199-foot tall meteorological monitoring towers have
been constructed and are currently collecting data within the Project
Area boundary. At the completion of the Project, 1 to 3 meteorological
towers would remain within the Project Area during the life of the
     Three temporary staging areas would be located within the
Project Area for construction-related temporary facilities, which
include a concrete batch plant and cleared areas for construction
parking, equipment laydown, and construction management trailers. These
areas, totaling approximately 10 acres, would be restored and
revegetated upon completion of construction.
     A second electrical substation would be needed at the end
of the 138 kV transmission line to tie into the existing 138 kV
overhead transmission line. This substation would be located on private
land outside of the Project Area.
    In addition to these facilities, the Project development process
would also involve upgrading local transportation infrastructure to
accommodate the expected size of construction materials. At this time,
it is anticipated that the infrastructure upgrades would be minor in
scale (e.g., increased turning radius at road intersections).
    The Project area boundary encompasses a total of approximately
10,024 acres, of which 8,600 acres are within the NFS lands within the
Cadillac-Manistee Ranger District. The Project components described
above would be sited within this Project Area boundary and would occupy
a permanent footprint of approximately 75 acres of NFS lands.
Consideration of species management and habitat, water resources,
cultural resources, visuals, public access and safety, maximization of
existing facilities, and the layout of buried and above ground
facilities have been incorporated as part of the Project design to the
extent practicable and would be evaluated through the National
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) site-specific environmental analysis

Responsible Official

    Barry Paulson, Forest Supervisor, Huron-Manistee National Forests,
1755 S. Mitchell Street, Cadillac, MI 49601.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    White Pines Wind Farm LLC has submitted an application to the
Forest Service for a Special Use authorization seeking approval to
occupy and use NFS lands for the purpose of constructing and operating
a wind power facility on the Huron-Manistee National Forests. The
decision to be made is whether to grant the authorization for the
construction and operation activities as proposed, or as modified by an
alternative to the proposed action, or to deny granting the

[[Page 52947]]

Scoping Process

    The Forest Service plans to scope for information by contacting
persons and organizations interested or potentially affected by the
proposed action by using mailings, public announcements, and personal
contacts. In addition, two separate public scoping meetings will be
held to collect public input on the scope of this project:
    Scoping Meeting #1: September 30, 2008, at the Ramada Inn, 4079 W.
U.S. 10, Ludington, MI. An open house format will be used. The public
is welcome between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
    Scoping Meeting #2: October 1, 2008, at the Days Inn, 1462 U.S.
Hwy. 31, Manistee, MI. An open house format will be used. The public is
welcome between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Comment Requested

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process which guides
the development of the environmental impact statement. The primary
purpose of scoping is to gather public comments, issues, and concerns
regarding the proposed action. We are especially interested in
information that might identify a specific undesired result of
implementing the proposed action. Comments will be used to help
formulate alternatives to the proposed action. Please make your written
comments as specific as possible as they relate to the proposed action,
and include your name, address, and if possible, telephone number and
e-mail address. Comments received in response to this solicitation,
including names and addresses of those who comment, will be considered
part of the public record on this proposed action and will be available
for public inspection. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted
and considered; however, those who submit anonymous comments will not
have standing to appeal the subsequent decisions under 36 CFR parts 215
or 217. Additionally, pursuant to 7 CFR 1.27(d), any persons may
request the agency to withhold a submission from the public record by
showing how the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) permits such
confidentiality. Persons requesting such confidentiality should be
aware that under FOIA confidentiality may be granted in only very
limited circumstances, such as to protect trade secrets. The Forest
Service will inform the requester of the agency's decision regarding
the request for confidentiality and, should the request be denied,
return the submission and notify the requester that the comments may be
resubmitted with or without name and address within 90 days.
    Early Notice of Importance of Public Participation in Subsequent
Environmental Review: A draft environmental impact statement will be
prepared for comment. The comment period on the draft environmental
impact statement will be 45 days following the date the Environmental
Protection Agency publishes the notice of availability in the Federal
Register. The Forest Service believes, at this early stage, that it is
important to give reviewers notice of several court rulings related to
public participation in the environmental review process. First,
reviewers of draft environmental impact statements must structure their
participation in the environmental review of the proposal so that it is
meaningful and alerts an agency to the reviewer's position and
contentions. Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. v. NRDC, 435 U.S. 519,
553 (1978). Also, environmental objections that could be raised at the
draft environmental impact statement stage but that are not raised
until after completion of the final environmental impact statement may
be waived or dismissed by the courts. City of Angoon v. Hodel, 803 F.2d
1016, 1022 (9th Cir. 1986) and Wisconsin Heritages, Inc. v. Harris, 490
F. Supp. 1334, 1338 (E.D. Wis. 1980). Because of these court rulings,
it is very important that those interested in this proposed action
participate by the close of the 45-day comment period so that
substantive comments and objections are made available to the Forest
Service at a time when it can meaningfully consider them and respond to
them in the final environmental impact statement. To assist the Forest
Service in identifying and considering issues and concerns on the
proposed action, comments on the draft environmental impact statement
should be as specific as possible. It is also helpful if comments refer
to specific pages or chapters of the draft statement. Comments may also
address the adequacy of the draft environmental impact statement or the
merits of the alternatives formulated and discussed in the statement.
Reviewers may wish to refer to the Council on Environmental Quality
Regulations for implementing the procedural provisions of the National
Environmental Policy Act at 40 CFR 1503.3 in addressing these points.
Comments received, including the names and addresses of those who
comment, will be considered part of the public record on this proposal
and will be available for public inspection.

    Authority: 40 CFR 1501.7 and 1508.22; Forest Service Handbook
1909.15, Section 21.

    Dated: August 22, 2008.
Barry Paulson,
Forest Supervisor.
[FR Doc. E8-20764 Filed 9-11-08; 8:45 am]