General discussion

LIF STRAND Forums Red Hill Wind Farm General discussion

This topic contains 9 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Lif Strand 1 year, 6 months ago.

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  • #831 Reply

    Lif Strand
    Keymaster

    This topic is for general discussion of Red Hill Wind Farm issues.

    Previous information was posted on another blog.  To make it easier to find, I’m reposting it here.

    Red Hill Wind Farm Info

    About:  This page provides information about the proposed wind farm in western New Mexico in the Red Hill area.  It will be updated as information becomes available.

    UPDATE 09/20/18  BLM says they’re getting ready to submit the NOI to Washington, and probably we’ll see public meetings in November.  (text of email below in BLM section).

    INITIAL INFORMATION

    By National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) regulation, primary stakeholders — anyone who would be directly impacted by the project — must be contacted early on, so all Red Hill landowners and grazing permittees will be contacted by BLM… eventually.

    What is a Right-Of-Way (ROW), Wind Project Test?

    A ROW wind project test is the first step in determining a site’s suitability for a wind farm and involves installation of meteorological (“met”) towers.  They don’t have the large spinning blades of wind turbines, but are temporary structures used to gather data on wind velocity and other conditions. Generally these towers are 200 or more feet tall.  In theory details about the met tower should be included in a notice of intent provided by the LLC, although if this exists, I’ve not found it online.

    The met tower only take a day or two to install and would typically remain in place for less than three years while other NEPA requirements are being met.  Given the vast area of the projects here at Red Hill, I would expect several towers to be installed.

    • Our Catron County District 1 Commissioner, Anita Hand, is aware of this issue and is working with us to keep us informed.
    • Our NM State Representative, Gail Armstrong, is aware of this issue and is sharing information with us.
    • Melanie Goodman, aide to US Senator, Tom Udall, is aware of this issue and is sharing information with us.

    Catron County Commissioner Anita Hand contacted the person who came to a Commission meeting to give a presentation on the project a while back and informed that person that someone needs to come to Quemado for a public meeting for the sake of transparency.  That person (whose name I don’t have but can get) said she would get a public meeting organized.

    We received permission from the Quemado Fire Chief, Jerry Armstrong, to use the Red Hill Fire Station as a meeting location.

    LINKS to articles of interest

    2012 East County Magazine (CA) article on wind turbine accidents
    2017 Albuquerque Journal article about Xcel pledge to spend locally for the Eastern NM project
    2018 TEP has contract rights to a Western NM project
    2018 blog post I wrote I just wrote about the exploitation of New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment

    RESEARCH

    NextEra is an energy wholesaler.  Wikipedia reports that they are one of 25 US companies that pay the least US taxes because of the tax breaks they get from generating renewable energy.
    https://www.nexteraenergyresources.com/home/index.shtml
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NextEra_Energy
    https://subsidytracker.goodjobsfirst.org/prog.php?parent=nextera-energy
    https://www.followthemoney.org/entity-details?eid=1039

    Borderland Wind LLC is a name that NextEra uses for other projects in other states as well as here, and the LLC has a Florida address. The Catron County project is a proposed”wind energy zone”, a “right-of-way (row), wind project test. This zone is registered for extracting wind energy facilities.”

    According to the map I found for the LLC proposal it is both sides of US 60 starting at the AZ/NM border. It is just under 22,000 acres (34 square miles). Pretty much everybody in the Red Hill area would see it from their homes, and certainly would see it when they went out to the mailboxes.

    See attached map, obtained at https://windenergyzones.com/claims/nmnm—137134/map

    Borderlands Wind LLC has applied for at least two permits for the ROW test, not just the one I first discovered.  It’s possible that the one I have already alerted you about (Zone #NMNM 137134) is an amendment of an earlier one (Zone #NMNM 136976).  The map for the earlier one appears to include just about all BLM lands from the AZ/NM border east to at least the Salt Lake/Luna road, on both north and south sides of US 60 (see attached maps, one of the whole of Zone 136976 and one of just the northern part that would most directly impact the extended Red Hill area).
    Zone #NMNM 136976 is stated as being 21,981 acres.  If I counted correctly, it’s 89 sections.
    Zone #NMNM 137134 is stated as being 21,981 acres.  It’s a much smaller area than that, but the number is the same amount as the much larger map for the earlier filing.  This is what leads me to believe that the second filing is an amendment to the first.
    If you use the map link, be sure to click the box on the right for “pending”.
     check the Federal Register every day for publication of a Notice of Intent for “our” wind farm.  So far I have found nothing.  This is not as meaningful as it might seem, because the NOI would only be published when the actual project was started.  Testing does not require the NOI.  Approval for testing has already been given by BLM.
    In checking windenergyzones.com (provides maps of wind power zones on public land in the United States) the following right-of-way (ROW) for a wind site test was approved, although what exactly this entails is hard to determine since it is listed as “0” acres:
      Zone #NMNM 137298 (this is a BLM serial number)
      0-acre authorized wind energy zone
      Location: T.2S, R.20W, Sec. 11       34.1448°N 108.8986°W
      9/6/2017 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Analysis Approved CX-NMA020-2017-0042
      1/22/2018  Authorized
      1/24/2018  Rental Received ($300.00)
      1/24/2018  Bond Filed  ($2000.00)
      1/25/2018  Bond Accepted
    —– About the NEPA document —-
    A CX type NEPA document is a “Categorical Exclusion”.  These are categories of actions that have been determined, by regulation, to not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment and for which, therefore, neither an environmental assessment nor an environmental impact statement normally is required. DOE’s categorical exclusions are listed in Appendices A and B to Subpart D of its NEPA regulations,10 CFR Part 1021.
    Because this is a wind site test, probably with a temporary device (see prior email I’ve sent for descriptions of the typical testing equipment), the CX determination is not surprising.
    I will try to get a copy of the NEPA Decision Memo.  Of course, the BLM might make me file a FOIA for it, but it can’t hurt to ask.
    If you have a BLM or USFS topo map, the wind site test area is about 5 miles south of US 60, and 3 miles east of the transmission lines.  Chihuahua Lake (seasonal) is in the SW corner of the section this test is authorized for.
    If you have Google Earth use the attached KMZ file to locate the section.
    Note that the other two Borderlands applications for the actual wind power generation farms have not gone forward.  What happens with them depends on what Borderlands thinks about the results of the wind site test there, and wherever else they might decide to do others.
    Further reading on BLM’s NEPA process:  https://openei.org/wiki/RAPID/Roadmap/9-FD-a

    — April 2018 update —
    Melanie Goodman told me that the wind farm company has nearly doubled the acreage they want to operate on, to 40,000 or more acres (over 60 square miles).  The company (Borderlands) has filed or is going to file an amended application to reflect that, and soon as they do we will have the information, including a new map.  The proposal also, of course, increases the number of turbines.  Soon as I know what’s what I’ll let everyone know.  Basically, though, all the BLM lands from the Salt Lake road west to the NM/AZ border, and both sides of US 60 for a few miles in each direction, will be full of turbines.  Some of the folks in the subdivision will look out their windows and see turbines in *every* direction.  We (the subdivisions and the few ranches) will be totally surrounded by the project.
    NOTE:  I have not seen any amended application online!

    Anita Hand was going to meet with a project manager for Borderlands.  She will update us as soon as she does so.

    On April 9 Melanie Goodman told me that the BLM is trying to get a schedule out by the end of April which will have details on when they will be releasing the Notice of Intent (NOI).
        The NOI may be released this summer and will detail the timeline for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process and include information on how the public can make comments (public comment period is typically 30 days), including when and where they will be holding public meetings during the scoping process.
    A 150 foot tower has been build on BLM land a mile or so south of the intersection of Luna Road and Antelope Run road.   It is for measuring wind volatility. It has been operational for about two or three months.

    HISTORY of BLM contact

    From: Matthews, Mark 

    10/6/17
    To: Lif Strand

    We are at the beginning stages of the project and have not started the environmental process. Will add you to the list. Any questions feel free to email or call me.

    From: Matthews, Mark
    10/6/17
    To: Lif Strand
    The proposed site is south of Hwy 60 by Red Hill, west of the Luna Road (Bill Knight Gap Road), The Company is NextEra, and they have formed a LLC for the project and I believe it is called Borderland Wind LLC (not 100 percent sure of the name for the LLC).  The exact number of turbines and locations are still being determined, but looking at approximately 50 turbines.  I do not have the size of the turbines or more detailed information at this time on the design of the proposal.
    From:  Lif Strand
    10/8/17
    To: Mark Matthews
    …it is my understanding that typically the first step for wind projects is to install meteorological towers, and that details about the towers, and the number and locations, are supposed to be part of the testing permit.  I would like copies of that material.
    From:  Matthews, Mark
    10/10/17

    To: Lif Strand

    You are correct we have issued two temporary permits for testing.  One was for a Sonic Detection and Radar (SoDAR), this actually stays on a trailer, the other is a Meteorological Tower (MET) and that is placed on the ground.  The permits are for three years.  The design of the project and amount of towers is not part of the testing requirements.  Will follow up with some additional info to you later this week or first of next week.  For right now, use me as the contact person and later that might change as we progress.  We are at the beginning of the process, so feel free to ask questions.
    From:  Lif Strand
    10/24/17
    To: Mark Matthews
    Hi Mark.  I’ve gotten permission for any meetings we might be able to arrange about the wind farm to take place at the Red Hill main station #2, Quemado Fire and EMS District #2, here at Red Hill.  People are eager to understand what is happening and could happen with this project.
         While the best time would probably be a Saturday, as long as we have enough time to notify everybody I think any time would be fine.  Please let me know as soon as possible if we can set up a meeting.  Thanks.
    From: Matthews, Mark
    Date: Tue, Dec 12, 2017 at 11:34 AM
    Subject: Re: Still waiting for Red Hill wind farm update
    To: Lif Strand

    Lif we are still in the beginning stages, at this point not much to update on the project.  We will be holding public meetings on the proposal.  Our process requires a Notice of Intent (NOI) to be publish in the Federal Register prior to holding public meetings.  At this time we have not drafted the NOI and it will be reviewed by our National Office prior to being published.  This will take some time, once I have a better time frame will let you know where we are in the process.

    From: Matthews, Mark 
    Date: Thu, Sep 20, 2018 at 12:17 PM
    Subject: Re: [EXTERNAL] Red Hill Wind Farm
    To: Lif Strand 

    Lif we are getting ready to send the Notice of Intent to our Washington Office for review.  The notice is what will be in the federal register, a description of the proposed action  and the public meeting times and locations.  We are looking at Mid November for the public meetings.   I will let you know the locations and times once they are finalized.

    POINTS to consider

    >>  Our area used to be a ferruginous hawk study zone, so that’s a point that could be questioned:  What will happen to the hawk population, and to that of other predator birds?   I believe that the hawks have been taken off the threatened list, but their recovery is due to habitat protection, so the habitat loss of the hawks might be of concern. The turbines are notorious for chopping up eagles, other raptors, and bats.
    >>  While the tops of the vanes are under the 500′ flight limit for planes, we are in a military flight training zone.  Would the flight training zone rules affect the wind farm?
    >>  Who will buy the power?  If the power’s going to TEP then how is the power from the wind farm going to get to their lines?  Are they going to build transmission towers too?  I don’t imagine the power lines to Socorro Electric would handle the wind farm power generation, but maybe the LLC would plan to sell to them?
    >>  What will happen to the value of our houses and land?
    >> They will say that jobs will be created, but will New Mexicans get the jobs, or will already trained construction workers be brought in from outside, build the wind farm and leave?  As the sites are automated small maintenance crews stop by from time to time. So where would the jobs come from?
    >> What about the money involved?  Will Borderlands get subsidies to build/operate?  Will the county get anything from them (probably not, being on federal land, likely not even sales tax for the county since the LLC will be wholesalers).  How much rent (or other compensation) will BLM get for this project?
    >> Most area residents moved out here to get away from city life, and to have peace and quiet, not to mention enjoying the wildlife and beautiful scenery.
    >> Does the County or State have any input about this?  Do either have to approve any of it?
    >> Will the turbines have lights on top?
    >>  What about decibel levels?
    >> Companies hired to push through projects like this will have lots of one sided charts and graphs with impressive data to support their argument, but much of this will be fluff we have to catch. Some impressive data might not be relevant to the project at hand.
    >>  Are there any endangered, vulnerable or threatened species in the project area? Disrupting habitat or migration patterns is a big no no. Bird watchers and animal and plant lovers need to help find vulnerable species!
    >>  Make sure the “laws” used for their arguments are actually laws. The burden will be on us to do most of the research.
    >>  Is there a better location for a wind farm, one that won’t have such an impact on residents (or endangered/threatened species)?
    >>  With the big SunZia project going in, is this project really necessary?
    >>  Local residents and property owners suffer all the impacts and get no benefits.  Why should this be allowed?
    >> Not all “green” energy is actually green.  Logging is sustainable and non invasive to neighboring humans. It impact goes away, and forests can actually benefit from logging.  Mining is non-sustainable and invasive to the viewscape and neighboring humans. It forever changes the landscape. Therefore wind farms are more like mining than logging.  How green is wind farming then?
    >> How will this affect our medivac helicopter access?  Have the medivac companies been notified?
    >> We are in a military flight training zone.  How does this affect the project?
    >> What about water?  How much water will be pulled from the water table at the intended batch plant that will most likely be placed somewhere within the vicinity in order to pour the pads? This will after all outlying wells with in the area.
    >>  How will the construction affect our roads and cattle guards?
    >> We have marginal cell service as it is, and some of us are on satellite internet.  How will the turbines affect our reception?
    >>  What is the cumulative impact of 60+ square miles of wind turbines on an “island” of residents that we are?
    >>  A true-cost true-benefit analysis should include all costs and benefits.  Those aspects that cannot be given a price must also be acknowledged and included.
  • #836 Reply

    Lif Strand
    Keymaster

    This is the latest map from BLM of the proposed Borderlands LLC Wind Farm project location.
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1gaMEg8EX7xnOIIk6xcTLBz1ghyBEOKHZ

    The map was provided by Virginia Alguire of BLM, Socorro. Ms Alguire stated that it is a project map indicating the proposed location. This map does not include all areas that Borderlands LLC initially proposed for the project (see https://windenergyzones.com/claims/nmnm—137298/map), and one question for BLM would be whether the project would include land to the north of US 60.

    Ms Alguire further stated that BLM is hosting an Open House Forum on Wednesday, November 14th from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Quemado High School.

    Also, Jim Stobaugh is the National Project Team Lead for the proposed Borderlands Wind project.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by  Lif Strand.
    • #847 Reply

      Carol Reddy

      Wow, big discrepancy between maps.
      The sooner we have a meeting the better. They already have the upper hand and jump on us.
      Ever since we have become aware of this situation with a proposed wind farm, all I have been reading is horror stories regarding people’s health, animal’s health (both domestic and wild), loss of property values (hey, some people have abandoned their homes), possibility of wildfires caused by malfunctioning turbines, etc. The list is endless.
      We need to start acting now. Let’s have a meeting, soon!
      Carol Reddy

  • #848 Reply

    joe johnson jr

    Scheduling is my only obstacle, but I’m all for it. This can give us a jump start on what we want/need to discuss/present.

  • #849 Reply

    Lif Strand
    Keymaster

    UPDATE: Phone call with Dara Parker, Field Representative for US Senator Martin Heinrich

    I just got off the phone with Dara, who herself called BLM earlier and talked at length with them about the Red Hill Wind Farm. Dara provided me with some clarification on what’s going on and I am sharing the main points here.

    1. The map at windenergyzones.com is not the most current map. The one BLM sent me earlier today is the map of the project that is being proposed at this time, and it is entirely south of US 60. This means that this project cannot be expanded to include land north of US 60, which is not to say that a future project couldn’t do so.

    2. The June 6 meeting at BLM in Socorro was a meeting for cooperating agencies, which are federal agencies other than the lead agency and which have jurisdiction by law or special expertise with respect to any environmental impact involved in a proposal or reasonable alternative. In the past county governments have often not been included, but this time Catron County was and that explains why Catron County had someone (Linda Cooke) attend that meeting.

    3. The required Notification in the Federal Registry should be published on Friday, November 2 (give or take a couple of days). I will make sure a copy of that is saved here so it can be referred to as needed.

    4. The November 14 meeting (5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Quemado High School) will be the first scoping meeting. Scoping is required by NEPA to “engage State, local and tribal governments and the public in the early identification of concerns, potential impacts, relevant effects of past actions and possible alternative actions. Scoping is an opportunity to introduce and explain the interdisciplinary approach and solicit information as to additional disciplines that should be included. Scoping also provides an opportunity to bring agencies and applicants together to lay the groundwork for setting time limits, expediting reviews where possible, integrating other environmental reviews, and identifying any major obstacles that could delay the process.” [source: https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/43/46.235%5D

    5. It is possible that at the Nov. 14 meeting geographic information system (GIS) mapping analysis will be available as a tool. If so, and depending how this is presented at the time, individuals may be able to “see” the locations of turbines from their own property. No guarantees on this one for Nov. 14, but possibly this would be available down the line as well.

    6. If you can attend the Nov. 14 meeting, it would be a good idea to have your questions written down and available in advance.

    I chatted with Dara about federal subsidies/tax incentives for the project, the scope of the project (area, number & size of the turbines, etc), and the history of it as well. However, BLM is the one we should be asking the questions of and who should provide us with answers!

  • #853 Reply

    Bob Brown

    Chuck Hayes the head of the NM Game&Fish environmental div returned my call yesterday responding to msg I left on his phone. He indicated he knew about it and through our 20 min conversation didn’t seem very sympathetic. Thought it odd he said he lived in the very small settlement of Ocotillo, Ca where there is now a huge wind farm. Maybe he’s a wind farm facilitator ??

    So my initial queries to various agencies a few days back was for a fact finding mission based on the fact I still knew nothing about what was going on and if you don’t dig for facts they wont give them to you. So now we know what is going on. This is going to be war. Check out other folks meetings with these wind farms…turns into shouting match. don’t blame them. Based on the map area here if they go in I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO INTEREST in keeping my property. That may not be the case for some of you but Id prefer to try to force them to pay for what it cost me to purchase and develop my property and go else where farther from paved roads because all the wind farms Ive seen are not to far from highways or paved roads.I dont know fully what our legal rights are but its looking more and more like we will have to get an attorney ?

  • #854 Reply

    Bob Brown

    Interesting Read….the BLM is now in the Energy Business !

    https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060084085

  • #855 Reply

    joe johnson jr

    I have exhausted all avenues available to take off work on the 14th to attend the meeting in Quemado. My department is running so lean, there is no one to cover if I want off, unless it is an emergency. I only work sixteen days a month, but that one day is not one I have off. Go figure!
    I regret not being able to attend. I believe one voice is heard, but many voices can make a change.
    God have mercy, and bless us one and all………!!!!!!

  • #856 Reply

    Lif Strand
    Keymaster

    Joe — I will take notes and share with you so you know what happens there.

  • #906 Reply

    Lif Strand
    Keymaster

    First round comment period is now closed. BLM says they should have the draft Environmental Impact Study (EIS) ready for public comment the end of February or the beginning of March.

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