Summitwind farm grant and roberts counties, south dakota



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ENVIRONMENTAL

ASSESSMENT

SUMMITWIND FARM

GRANT AND ROBERTS COUNTIES,

SOUTH DAKOTA

DOE/EA-1979

August 2015



TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

1.1Site Description 5

1.2The Federal Actions 5

1.3Proposed Action 9

1.3.1Proposed Facilities 9

1.3.2Pre-Construction Process 13

1.3.3Decommissioning 23

1.4Alternatives 24

1.4.1Preliminary Alternatives Screening 24

1.4.2No Action Alternative 25

1.5Purpose and Need for the Proposed Action 25

1.5.1General Purpose and Need 25

1.5.2Applicant Purpose and Need 26

1.5.3Agency Purpose and Need 26

1.6Authorizing Actions 27

1.7Public Participation 29

2.EXISTING CONDITIONS, ANTICIPATED IMPACTS AND ANTICIPATED CONSERVATION MEASURES 30

2.1Geology and Soils 30

2.1.1Existing Conditions 30

2.1.2Potential Impacts of the Alternatives 35

2.1.3Proposed Conservation Measures 38

2.2Air Resources 39

2.2.1Existing Conditions 40

2.2.2Potential Impacts of the Alternatives 40

2.2.3Proposed Conservation Measures 43

2.3Water Resources 45

2.3.1Existing Conditions 45

2.3.2Potential Impacts of the Alternatives 47

2.3.3Proposed Conservation Measures 51

2.4Vegetation 53

2.4.1Existing Conditions 53

2.4.2Potential Impacts of the Alternatives 54

2.4.3Proposed Conservation Measures 61

2.5Wildlife 62

2.5.1Existing Wildlife Conditions 63

2.5.2Potential Impacts of the Alternatives 70

2.5.3Proposed Conservation Measures 72

2.6Land Use 74

2.6.1Existing Conditions 74

2.6.2Potential Impacts of the Alternatives 76

2.6.3Proposed Conservation Measures 78

2.7Socioeconomic and Environmental Justice 79

2.7.1Existing Conditions 80

2.7.2Potential Impacts of the Alternatives 84

2.7.3Proposed Conservation Measures 86

2.8Visual Resources 87

2.8.1Existing Conditions 87

2.8.2Potential Impacts of the Alternatives 87

2.8.3Proposed Conservation Measures 89

2.9Acoustics 91

2.9.1Existing Conditions 91

2.9.2Potential Impacts of the Alternatives 92

2.9.3Proposed Conservation Measures 94

2.10Transportation 95

2.10.1Existing Conditions 95

2.10.2Potential Impacts of the Alternatives 96

2.10.3Proposed Conservation Measures 98

2.11Public Safety and Communications 99

2.11.1Existing Conditions 99

2.11.2Potential Impacts of the Alternatives 101

2.11.3Proposed Conservation Measures 103

2.12Cultural Resources 104

2.12.1Existing Conditions 105

2.12.2Potential Impacts of the Alternatives 106

2.12.3Proposed Conservation Measures 108

2.13Cumulative Impacts 111



3.AGENCIES CONTACTED/CONSULTED 113

3.1Federal Agencies 113

3.2State and Local Agencies 114

3.3Native American Tribes and Associated Bodies 114



4.REFERENCES 116

5.LIST OF PREPARERS 121

6.LIST OF TABLES 123

7.LIST OF FIGURES 124

8.LIST OF APPENDICES 124


    1. Site Description


The proposed SummitWind Farm (the Project) is a community wind farm developed by SummitWind Farm, LLC (the Project proponent). The proposed Project would consist of up to 41 wind turbine generators with a maximum generating capacity of up to 90 megawatts (MW). The proposed Project area encompasses approximately 11,616 acres in Grant County, which is located south of the Town of Summit, South Dakota along the Coteau des Prairies. See Figure 1.1.1: Regional Location Map. The proposed area, comprised of grasslands, lakes and wetlands, was historically classified as rural residential or agricultural land and was used for cropland, hay field and pasture purposes. Interstate-29 runs north-south through the middle of the Project area. Although the majority of the Project lies within the historic Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Reservation, the entire Project is on privately owned land and is therefore not governed by the Tribal Planning Council.

The Project proponent selected the Project area for a number of reasons including presence of a superior wind resource, access to transmission interconnection, and community support for wind energy development.


    1. The Federal Actions


The Project proponent seeks to interconnect the Project to the United States Department of Energy (DOE) Western Area Power Administration (Western) transmission system via a tap configuration at the existing Summit-Watertown 115kV Transmission Line.

The Project would require certain actions from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) because many landowners in the Project area have USFWS-managed grassland and wetland easements on their properties. There are approximately 1210.7 acres of grassland easements and 223.9 acres of wetland easements in the Project area. Although the proposed Project would not disturb any wetland easements, construction of the Project would affect grassland easements both temporarily and permanently. See Table 1.2-1: Proposed USFWS Easement Disturbance and Table 1.2-2: Proposed Acreage per Type of Disturbance on USFWS-managed Easements.

Table 1.2-1: Proposed USFWS Easement Disturbance

 

Grassland Easement

Wetland Easement

Total Area (acres)

1210.7

223.9

Temporary Disturbed (acres)

10.13

0.00

Permanent Disturbed (acres)

1.27

0

Temporary Disturbed (%)

0.84%

0.00%

Permanent Disturbed (%)

0.10%

0.00%

The USFWS has two options available to address potential impacts to its grassland easements: (1) Exchange USFWS-managed grassland easements for grassland easement acreage permanently impacted by wind turbines; or (2) Obtain a Special Use Permit for temporary construction disturbance to USFWS-managed grassland easements.

Table 1.2-2: Proposed Acreage per Type of Disturbance on USFWS-managed Easements



Type

Temporary Disturbance (Acres)

Permanent Disturbance (Acres)

Temporary + Permanent Disturbance (Acres)

Grassland Easement

10.13

1.27

11.40

Wetland Easement

0.00

0.00

0.00

Private Land not under Easement

212.51

26.10

238.61

Total

222.64

27.37

250.01

The Project proponent has completed field wetland delineations and construction of the Project would have minor impacts to wetlands in the Project area; therefore, the Project would require a Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404 Wetland Permit from the United States Army Corps of Engineers (under the Nationwide Permit Program).

The Project is a federal action under section 102(2) of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA (40 CFR Parts 1500-1508), DOE NEPA Implementing Procedures (10 CFR Part 1021), and other applicable regulations. Western prepared this Environmental Assessment (EA) under these regulations to describe the analysis of environmental effects of the proposed Project and alternatives, including the No Action Alternative.

At the request of Western, the USFWS is participating as a cooperating agency in the preparation of this EA.

Western and the USFWS have prepared a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) to evaluate the impacts of wind energy development in Western's Upper Great Plains Region (all or parts of Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota), and on the USFWS's grassland and wetland easements in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana (available online at http://www.plainswindeis.anl.gov/documents/fpeis/index.cfm). The Final Upper Great Plains (UGP) Wind Energy PEIS identifies conservation strategies, best management practices (BMPs), and comprehensive environmental review procedures for evaluating future wind energy projects. This SummitWind EA will reference the final PEIS as appropriate.

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA) requires federal agencies to take into account the effects of their undertakings on historic properties, and afford the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation a reasonable opportunity to comment. The actions taken to satisfy Section 106 consultation requirements for this Project are discussed in Section 2.12, Existing Conditions, Anticipated Impacts and Anticipated Conservation Measures for Cultural Resources. A list of the state agencies (including the South Dakota State Historic Preservation Office), Native American Tribes and associated entities contacted to date can be found in Section 3.0, Agencies Contacted/Consulted.


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