Case StudiesWind Turbine Guidelines Federal Advisory Committee Consensus Recommendations
Wind Turbine Guidelines Federal Advisory Committee Consensus Recommendations
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) created the Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee to draft national, voluntary guidelines for wind energy developers to use in avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating wind turbine impacts on wildlife and their habitats. Kearns & West managed and facilitated the Committee under the rules of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which requires careful planning and documentation of the Committee’s work and timelines. Kearns & West organized and facilitated public meetings, organized communications between USFWS and the diverse interests involved regarding the language and policies being proposed, and managed subcommittees collaboratively drafting sections for the guidelines. Kearns & West integrated the work of the Committee members, subcommittees, and technical experts into one cohesive document for use by the 22 members in reaching a singular consensus on the final guidelines. Following a three-year negotiation, the committee reached consensus recommendations on a risk-based method to minimize impacts of land-based wind farms on wildlife and habitat. The recommendations, which supported the national emphasis on wind energy expansion by providing predictability for related wildlife protection needs, were included in the voluntary guidelines released by the Department of the Interior in March 2012.
Oroville Facilities Relicensing
California Department of Water Resources
The California Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) Oroville facilities provide water to more than 23 million people and 750,000 acres of irrigated farmland in California. DWR sought to develop a consensus-backed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license application in a short timeframe while overcoming a history of concerns in the community (involving more than 1,200 stakeholders) and developing a comprehensive settlement package of recreational, environmental, cultural and community measures for the next 50 years. Kearns & West designed the stakeholder process and provided facilitation, public involvement and outreach services to the Department. Throughout the process, Kearns & West prepared newsletters, led community workshops, conducted National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)/California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) meetings, and facilitated the settlement negotiations including a main settlement group and recreation and socioeconomics, environmental, fish passage, and legal drafting subgroups. Kearns & West worked with a diverse group of stakeholders to secure broad stakeholder support for 77 study plans, 165 technical reports and a comprehensive settlement agreement signed by 52 state and federal agencies, local governments, local community interests, water interests and environmental organizations. Once a license is issued by FERC, Kearns & West will provide facilitation and public process support for license implementation.
Walla Walla to McNary Transmission Line Siting
PacifiCorp is embarking on an ambitious transmission expansion of 1,900 miles of new power lines across the six western states to meet energy demand and provide for the transmission of new, renewable energy sources. Since PacifiCorp met with strong local resistance to transmission line installation in several communities, the company hired Kearns & West to assist with a smooth permitting and construction process for a 230 kilovolt transmission line between Walla Walla, Washington, and Umatilla, Oregon. Kearns & West provided public involvement and outreach services including a stakeholder assessment, public participation plan, fact sheets, newsletters, messaging and outreach strategies, talking points, public presentations and community information exhibits. Kearns & West also designed and facilitated public information meetings in the local communities regarding the proposed transmission line. Thus far, reaction to PacifiCorp’s Walla Walla to Umatilla transmission line has been predominantly favorable.
Alternative Energy and Alternate Use Program
U.S. DOI Minerals Management Service
Through the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Congress granted authority to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) to lease land for alternative energy and alternate use on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). While MMS had significant experience leasing oil and gas projects on the OCS, the organization did not have a clear sense of the concerns specific to siting alternative energy and alternate use projects. For this reason, MMS engaged Kearns & West to coordinate and facilitate regional fact-finding stakeholder meetings to support the development of their program. Kearns & West helped MMS identify relevant stakeholders for eight regional meetings held in coastal states around the country. These regional meetings assisted in the characterization of stakeholder concerns and needs and identified the key issues to be addressed while MMS develops and implements the Alternative Energy and Alternate Use (AEAU) program. At the fact-finding meetings, Kearns & West encouraged the participants to share their perspectives on current and future renewable energy needs, present and future technology opportunities, relevant state and local regulations, additional stakeholder involvement, and pressing issues regarding offshore renewable energy and alternate use development in their respective regions. At the conclusion of the meetings, Kearns & West provided regional summary reports covering the topics raised in the regional fact-finding meetings.
Hydropower Facilities Licensing Process Review
Electric Power Research Institute; National Review Group; FERC Rulemaking
Kearns & West organized and facilitated a multi-year process that initially identified best practices for licensing hydroelectric projects, followed by a two-year process to identify and develop a set of recommendations for an improved approach of licensing hydroelectric projects. These recommended regulatory policies were filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on behalf of industry, conservation and environmental participants. Federal and state resource agencies served as advisors to the process. Subsequently, FERC initiated a rulemaking and engaged Kearns & West to facilitate a stakeholder process to negotiate recommendations and provide input to FERC on its proposed rule. The final rule, including the Integrated Licensing Process, was issued by FERC with broad support by industry, conservation and environmental NGOs, and federal and state resource agencies.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Integrated Licensing Process Guidebook
When the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) adopted the Integrated Licensing Process (ILP), it committed to studying the effectiveness of the process and achieving reductions in processing time and cost. To secure that commitment, FERC asked Kearns & West to assist with an effectiveness evaluation to review the ILP with federal and state agencies, Native American tribes, licensees, nongovernmental organizations, and members of the public involved in the first seven relicensing cases using the ILP. Kearns & West conducted probing interviews, by-sector dialogues, regional workshops and a technical conference. Kearns & West solicited ideas, tools and techniques that were being implemented (or could be implemented) to achieve the goals of the ILP within the framework of the regulations. The feedback collected was compiled into a comprehensive guidebook (and posted on the FERC website), the data of which helped ILP participants complete their licensing process in a higher quality, efficient manner. Kearns & West is currently conducting a second phase of the ILP Effective Evaluation for the FERC incorporating more recent ILP experience.
National Wind Coordinating Collaborative
U.S. Department of Energy
In 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy documented that wind power had the potential to make up to 20 percent of the nation’s electricity base by 2020. However, realizing this potential requires addressing a host of issues associated with siting wind facilities and transmitting that power to market. The National Wind Coordinating Collaborative (NWCC) is the principal forum for addressing these and other issues associated with the development of wind power. Initiated in 1994, the NWCC is a volunteer collaborative that brings together hundreds of representatives from the wind industry, economic development agencies, electric power utilities, environmental agencies, nongovernmental organizations, green power advocates, federal, state and tribal governments, and academic institutions. By convening leaders to engage in facilitated dialogue and producing factual, highly credible reports on siting and transmission issues, NWCC catalyzes activities that support the sustainable development of wind power. Kearns & West staff has facilitated and managed the NWCC since its inception. Kearns & West staff provides strategic advice, manages the steering committee, runs transmission, wildlife and siting workgroups, directs outreach, drafts newsletters, oversees the NWCC website, and convenes and produces the large public forums co-sponsored by the NWCC.
Western Renewable Energy Zone Initiative
Western Governors’ Association
Numerous western state governors are partnering to achieve ambitious regional, clean and diversified energy goals. Hugely promising yet untapped renewable resources are located largely within remote parts of the west that require investment in new transmission to get the resources to market. With support from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) launched the Western Renewable Energy Zone (WREZ) project. The WREZ project objectives were to identify where significant renewable energy resources are located and can be developed, while minimizing impacts to wildlife and habitat, and to identify where economic transmission could be built to bring these often remote resources to market. A Governor/Premier-level steering committee will finalize the plan. The steering committee was served by a technical committee with representatives from 11 states, Mexico and two Canadian provinces, public utility commissioners, state energy, fish and game offices, federal energy and wildlife agencies, and renewable resource industry representatives. Kearns & West advised the WGA technical committee on process design, defining ground rules (including purpose, roles and responsibilities), and helped WGA manage and facilitate the three subcommittees serving the technical committee. The final product was presented to the WGA in the summer of 2009.
Global demand for energy is on the rise. As communities struggle to keep up with swelling demand and as the use of renewable energy increases, adequate transmission systems and ample, reliable energy that minimizes environmental, social and cultural impacts is required. Finding and developing domestic energy, addressing changing community and public values, and meeting future needs with aging and innovative infrastructure can create conflict—all of which alters the expectations of stakeholders.
Kearns & West has decades of experience working with stakeholders to develop durable, reliable solutions that achieve lower cost and lower impact outcomes for applicants/energy organizations, while also addressing the environmental, social and cultural needs of communities and other stakeholders.
Kearns & West specializes in:
- Emerging Technologies
- Energy Efficiency and Demand Side Management
- Geothermal Policy
- Hydrokinetic Licensing and Policy
- Hydropower Licensing and Policy
- Natural Gas Pipeline Siting and Policy
- Solar Policy
- Thermal Power Plant Siting
- Transmission Line Siting and Planning Policy
- Wind Energy Policy and Development