Home Community Voices Burrowing into the Lava Ridge Wind Project Draft EIS

Burrowing into the Lava Ridge Wind Project Draft EIS

Burrowing into the Lava Ridge Wind Project Draft EIS

By David Yamaguchi
The North American Post

Maps from the DEIS Executive Summary. Above: Alternative B, Proposed Action. The black “worms” are wind turbine rows; heavy black lines are associated infrastructure. Orange shading denotes Bureau of Land Management land. The Minidoka National Historic Site is marked here by red rectangles. Scale: The background checkerboard demarcates surveyed square miles. The town at lower left is Twin Falls. Middle: Plan B in comparison with C, D, and E, which involve installing up to 400, 378, 280, and 269 wind turbines, respectively. https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/2013782/570

Now that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement is out on the proposed Lava Ridge Wind Project adjoining Minidoka National Historic Site, Idaho, the clock is running for our public written responses by April 20th.

What is at issue? As described by Erin Shigaki in the previous pages and by prior NAP articles, various alternative plans are un­der discussion for building the massive wind farm.

Key points.

The DEIS compares Plan A (do nothing) to Alternatives B, C, D and E (maps). The latter have increasingly smaller footprints on the land, but also reduce the amount of wind energy harnessed. They also vary in their specific routing of wind turbine rows and related infrastructure.

The main concern of most Japanese Americans is the visually distracting effect of the turning turbines on the isolation of the Minidoka NHS, central to conveying the nature of the WWII incarceration experience. Of the alter­natives, Plan B insults Minidoka (photo), while Plan E appears to minimize the impact.

Dynamic Visual Simulations.

Video simulations described in the DEIS help a lot. They are:
Simulation at Barracks, Block 22, Alter­native C (6.5 miles to turbines)
https://youtu.be/I52e3LJk25Y
Simulation at Honor Roll, Alternative C (6.2 miles; photo at right)
https://youtu.be/DWQIqg0MtiM
Simulation at MNHS Visitor Center, Alter­native E (8.5 miles)
https://youtu.be/zfjYN82SaCE
Simulation at Honor Roll, Alternative E (8.8 miles)
https://youtu.be/Ysm8DgGqjAA

Owing to distance, the wind turbines in Plans C to E appear less obtrusive in the simulations than I would have expected from the maps. Here, the disruption of the view-shed must be considered in both horizontal and vertical planes. (A tower 545 feet high 6.2 miles distant spans 5 degrees of the 180-degree view.)

Simulated worst-case viewing conditions from Minidoka Visitor Center, Alternative B.
Lava Ridge DEIS, Vol. 1, Section 3.5 Cultural Resources. page 3-161
https://eplanning.blm.gov/public_projects/2013782/200493266/20072054/250078236/Lava_Ridge_DEIS_V1_ExecSum-Chapters.pdf

Closing Thoughts

I would encourage readers to carefully read Section 3.5 of the DEIS, as well as to view the videos. As examples, the following starting questions arise from a quick look.

• How do the long black “spider legs” of the alternative plans affect the Minidoka site?
• Is this suspended wiring (perhaps the stationary white poles visible in the simulations)? Or are these service roads that will be used by construction and maintenance trucks? If the latter, are the roads new? How large are the trucks? Over what time periods and intervals would they drive the roads?
• There appear to be two separate parcels in the MNHS, where the small northern parcel falls between turbine rows under some alternatives. What is this parcel and how is it uniquely affected?

 

 

 

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David Yamaguchi has written for the NAP since 2006, at first as a volunteer, then as a paid freelancer (2016-2020),then as a staff writer/editor (2020-2023). He is presently executive director of the Japan-America Society of the State of Washington (JASSW).