The public scoping process has opened for the Walker Ridge Wind Project, under development in Lake and Colusa counties, according to the Bureau of Land Management Ukiah Field Office.
The agency is preparing an environmental impact statement and might also prepare a resource management plan amendment to the Ukiah Resource Management Plan for the Type III wind energy project, which is being developed by Colusa Wind LLC.
The developer is seeking a right-of-way that would permit 42 wind turbines to be constructed on 2,270 acres of public land in the two counties. The area is described as “along Walker Ridge, within the Indian Valley Management Area in Northern California.” Among the other planned structures are a substation plus a collection line and tie-in to an existing Pacific Gas and Electric transmission line. Walker Ridge Road will also be widened.
During the EIS scoping process, the agency is seeking public input on relevant issues and planning criteria that will guide project planning. In its notice, BLM said preliminary issues for the plan amendment area have been identified by BLM personnel as well as various government agencies and additional stakeholders.
This area has been in development since 2010, all under the Walker Ridge name. An application and proposed plan of development for the Walker Ridge Wind Energy Project was originally submitted to the BLM Ukiah Field Office by AltaGas Renewable Energy Pacific, Inc. for a 42-turbine project in that same area. It got as far as having the Environmental Protection Agency submit comments on the notice of intent to prepare an EIA in September 2010. In 2011, the BLM announced that a 70-MW Walker Ridge project was one of 19 “priority” renewable energy projects in the Western U.S. (See CEM No. 1121 [20.2])
Between 2011 and 2015, according to the BLM, the project was revised from 42 to 29 wind turbines, but was still planning to offer much as 70 MW of generating capacity. The agency “terminated the application because of a lack of due diligence required by AltaGas,” effective June 27, 2016.
The BLM says Colusa Wind LLC was established August 29, 2016. Then, on Jan. 9, 2018, Salka Energy dba Colusa Wind, LLC, submitted an application to the BLM Ukiah Field Office for a Type II wind energy project to construct meteorological towers to conduct monitoring and testing on Walker Ridge. The towers were never constructed, according to the BLM.
This version of the Walker Ridge project was mentioned in a June 2017 presentation to East Bay Community Energy by Salka, which sought a purchase power agreement from the community choice aggregator.
The 135-MW new-build project was described as having a 356-GWh/annual generation capacity. The presentation notes “Salka did not originate, but rather acquired Walker Ridge in June 2016 from a utility affiliate.”
In the first quarter of 2018, Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp. reportedly acquired the proposed project. This is confirmed in a BOEM nomination for California offshore wind development filed in January 2019, which lists Walker Ridge as under development by Algonquin Power dba Liberty Power.
The BLM says the new project under development in Lake and Colusa counties “is in a similar location as the previous project proposed by AltaGas” and adds that the “application is considered a separate, stand-alone project and will be evaluated on its own merits.”
A public meeting on the project is scheduled for July 9 in Clearlake Oaks. The comment period closes July 24.