The Lava Ridge Wind Turbine Project
The Green Elephant in Southern Idaho
By Hilber Nelson, MVLA, with Diana Nielsen
You are driving from the Magic Valley to Craters of the Moon to camp under the stars. About 20 miles out of town, instead of encountering the wide open vistas that are the hallmark of Idaho, you find yourself driving through a forest of hundreds of wind turbines, anywhere from 390 feet tall to Seattle’s Space Needle (608 ft tall). For miles. And barren. Gone are the mule deer, elk, sage grouse, and bird migration that used to call this region home. At night, twinkling stars now compete with the red warning lights atop each turbine. Then there’s the deep whirring sound of the blades, and miles and miles of new power lines carrying the power out of state, and not for Idahoans.
Welcome to the ugly side of ‘clean and affordable’ energy, that no one is talking about.
The proposed Project of 400 turbines would make it Idaho’s largest wind farm to date. It is located primarily on federal lands approximately 20 miles northeast of Twin Falls, ID, within the counties of Jerome, Lincoln, and Minidoka. It would generate 1,000 megawatts of energy. In 2021 a Public Notification was posted by the Shoshone BLM Office for a meeting to be held on September 15, 2021 for LS Power, a New York private equity company, through an affiliate Magic Valley Energy, LLC, based out of Delaware, for Lava Ridge Wind Turbine Project. LS Power claims, “The Project will bring hundreds of well-paid construction jobs for the trained construction crews, after completion up to 20 permanent jobs, and create millions of dollars in local economic impact annually. This will include a large boost to local and state tax revenue.” Wind power supplies more than 8% of U.S. electricity generation but this percentage is going to increase.
When Diana initially looked into the Project, it consisted of 76,000 acres of BLM land, including eight sections of Idaho State Department of Lands (IDOL), with 400 turbines, 1300 miles of service roads and miles of power lines, plus six wells. This project will involve three counties: Minidoka, Lincoln and Jerome. The towns most affected will be Dietrich and Shoshone with the arrival of 700 temporary employees, traffic and lost grazing. Adjacent home and property values will decrease from the loss of scenic views.
Diana’s first call was to the Idaho Department of Water Resources. The six wells can be drilled by using Idaho Statute 42-111 (see below), low volume wells that are in the category of stock water or domestic. Wind Turbines require no water to generate electricity. The turbines and transmission lines require millions of gallons of water to erect, not counting the millions of gallons to produce, the base, blades, and electrical components in the industrial plants. Read the U.S. Geology Study requirements for wind turbine industry here.
According to The Spokesman-Review, the Project would double Idaho’s turbine energy output.
In the local news outlet Magic Valley.com, the Project is moving through the Environmental Impact statement process, with the draft available to the public by August 2022. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has published the Scoping Report which summarizes the public comments about the Lava Ridge Wind Project Proposal. Click here to access it online.
Other wind and solar projects are in the works. Read about Salmon Falls Wind Project in Twin Falls County and Taurus Wind Turbine Project in Gooding County here. Currently there are 544 wind turbines in Idaho. 400 more will almost double the number of Idaho large scale turbines. The proposal states each turbine will be between 390 to 740 feet tall. A seventy (70) story building is a comparison. The Seattle Space Needle is 608 ft tall, with the viewing deck at 520 feet. The turbines will be visible for miles, both day and especially at night. Anything over 200 feet requires blinking red warning lights for the FFA low flying aircraft.
The 40 acres of battery storage dispersed within the Lava Ridge Project will be considered a hazardous area, after 20 to 25 years. If the batteries melt down they will need to be replaced and reclamation will be needed. How will the hazardous toxic waste be handled?
The substations and battery storage areas will need security. The security will limit public access. LS Power has installed these battery storage units in California and other states. Their large battery storage facilities in California have been having issues recently. Read about it here.
Luke Papez, Magic Valley Energy (MVE) project manager:
“Wind power is a cost-competitive, clean energy resource. It is an efficient technology to produce energy in a safe and environmentally sustainable manner while also supporting significant increases in economic impact for this area. The long-term effects on jobs, tax revenues, and sustainability efforts will create a legacy for Idaho’s future that few other opportunities can provide.”
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) is what governs LS Power’s sustainability policy and culture of ethics and integrity, according to their website. A review of MVE’s website lists ESG strategies to extend the lifetime of blades, the repurposing and recycling and safe disposal of blades. On its website, MVE states it uses Wind Energy Guidelines “to include wildlife issues as a key part of their holistic development process.”
In 2009, LS Power tried to build a powerline over Minidoka. Thankfully, the Department of the Interior moved LS Power’s Southwest Intertie Project (SWIP) power line away from the park. Today, LS Power seeks approval from the Bureau of Land Management to build the giant Lava Ridge wind project on federal land within two miles of the park’s visitor center.
In 2020, the company’s Gateway Project made LS Power the largest grid battery operator in the world.
The Project’s impact…
On wildlife: We are concerned about the migration paths used in this large area. It is known that wind turbines kill birds and bats. Clean energy friendly Sierra Club, estimates up to a million or more birds are killed by turbines in the U.S. Read how wind turbines affect deer here. And how one energy company was fined $8 million after their turbines killed 150 eagles here.
This Project requires a special permit for the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife for the Eagle kills. Read it here. The years and phases of construction will form a barrier for Mule Deer, Pronghorn, and Elk for migrations and the destruction of forage for all game. The Sage Grouse are few in numbers in the proposed area. It would benefit them to allow the ones left to multiply.
On Craters of the Moon: This is such a large project. The southwest view from the Craters of the Moon National Monument is endangered. This letter from the Coalition to Protect our National Parks and Monuments is very good. You can read Idaho Conservation League’s concerns on Craters of the Moon Preserve here. They welcome your input. Wind Watch raises similar concerns.
On historical sites: Wilson Butte will be almost surrounded by this project. Diana called the Fort Hall Native American Reservation. She confirmed that the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes are aware of this issue. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is looking into this. Our desert holds many artifacts and lost remains of our heritage, until the ground is disturbed. The historical views this project endangers are being contested by the Minidoka Historical Society.
On ranchers: There are 21 permittees on the 10 grazing allotments affected divided into three districts: Star Lake, Sid Butte, and Milner. Some have more than one permit with different dates, seasons and areas they rotate their livestock. The roads through this area will be 24 to 50 feet wide. Fences will be taken down and replaced by different fences that comply with the project. Existing watering systems will be altered. Cattle guards will be installed on some access roads. This sounds enticing but they will lose AUM’s (Animal Unit Month) a.k.a. decrease in grazing herd size.
The ranchers will need mitigation towards the purchase of forage so they can feed their cattle for the duration of the construction, plus the time from the replanting disturbed grasses until the grass is established. This will take approximately 3 years. After the turbines are spent the ranchers again will need mitigation during the tear down and reclamation. No Mitigation has been established. No numbers, or how it will be accomplished.
On humans: The power generated by Lava Ridge will require miles and miles of transmission lines to deliver power to communities. Southwest Intertie Project (SWIP) is slated to construct transmission lines south to Ely, NV. Aside from the loss of scenery, there is the noise generated by the massive blades, and the infrasound/vibrations that can contribute to wind-turbine syndrome. Symptoms can include headaches, sleep problems, night terrors, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), mood problems (irritability, anxiety), concentration and memory problems, issues with equilibrium, dizziness and nausea. What about the effects of electromagnetic fields on residents living near new power lines needed to transmit the electricity?
The turbines in this vast area will take away the natural views of sunsets, moon rises, Northern lights, sunsets and our horizon. We are also losing over 76,000 acres of dark sky. Many people have never seen the stars or the Milky Way because of light pollution.
On communities: Over 1300 miles of dusty roads, plus power lines, substations, and battery storage, will devastate the natural plants, and invasive plants will have to be controlled. Without grazing there is a higher risk of fire. While LS Power Senior Director of the Project, Luke Papez, says school districts and the College of Southern Idaho could mean an increase in their tax revenues, I (Diana) believe communities should be concerned about the impact of the 700 temporary construction employees will have on the nearby small towns. These communities already lack affordable housing, health care and are bedroom communities for Sun Valley. The initial money for building schools, Fire Houses and parks will seem helpful to the small towns, but after the 25-year lifespan of the Turbine projects, the small local communities will be left to maintain the new improvements and the extra funding will be gone. This leaves the local taxpayer left to foot this bill.
After construction only up to 20 employees are required for the project upkeep and operation. Law enforcement will also be affected with the temporary boom in population. How much security will be needed for the project itself? Who will be the enforcing agents for the federal ground?
On 911 communications: The Project has raised concerns that the 400 turbines could interfere with emergency communications. Southern Idaho Regional Communications Center and Project Mutual Telephone both expressed concerns that the project could interfere with their operations. Read the Times-News article here.
On hunters and public access: Hunting will be altered in Hunting units 53 and 52A. Major decreases in public access in the project area and game displacement. .
On heritage sites: The new 500 KV line will pass by Eden, cross the Snake River Canyon and Valley over the Oregon Trail, Kelton Trail, and the California Trail, past Hansen, to near the Rock Creek Station and Stricker House. The Twin Falls Historical Society is also contesting.
Fast-tracking Agenda 2030’s ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’
It’s no coincidence that with the closure of oil pipelines and exploration by the Biden Administration, and the ensuing runaway inflation that is upon us, coincides with the Biden Administration’s fast tracking of renewable energy development. For investment companies like LS Power, going ‘green’ means cashing in on stockpiles of renewable energy federal (taxpayer) monies to tackle the ‘climate change crisis’ that Agenda 2030’s sustainable development goal #7 ‘affordable and clean energy’ promises to solve.
In August 2021, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced the beginning of Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) fast-track review of the Lava Ridge Project to meet President Biden’s renewable energy permitting goals to tackle the climate crisis. Read Biden’s executive order here. Yep, it is loaded with Agenda 2030/Green New Deal language: sustainability, net-zero gas emissions, environmental justice, partnerships, advance equity, clean energy economy. In January 2022, the Biden Administration announced a Memorandum of Understanding between multiple federal agencies to accelerate reviews of energy proposals on public lands.
The Green Gold Rush
Going ‘green’ or clean also means big bucks for project developers and investors like LS Power to cash in on the new renewable energy economy. Thanks, in part, to Biden’s $1 trillion dollar Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to meet Agenda 2030 climate goals, and the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy incentive program. Here are just a few for wind power: production and investment tax credits, renewable electricity production tax credit, business energy investment tax credit, partnership opportunities, new markets tax credits, multiple financing mechanisms, research funding, technology development grants, and rural energy loan guarantees. Wall Street with clean energy investments are eager to please the portfolio holders and big banks. The push to utilize ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) criteria by the UN is also involved. Read how Agenda 2030 sustainable development goals provide a framework for ESG here.
Remember, all these federal ‘incentive programs’ are funded by your taxpayer dollars that are fueling companies like LS Power and Magic Valley Energy to make billions while ‘saving the planet.’ Think gold miners getting taxpayer dollars to open up gold mines, and pocket the profits. Not only that, but they use taxpayer dollars to pay BLM for leasing the land for the turbines as a tax write off. Lastly, LS Power will receive renewable energy credits for the Project. Renewable energy credits are as good as gold and can be sold or traded. Read about them here.
Agenda 2030’s ‘Clean and affordable energy’ scheme is costing taxpayers dearly in federal giveaways and write-offs and credits to corporations – while taxpayers are also paying sky high fuel prices at the pump, and the runaway inflation that goes with it.
With fast-tracking ‘green’ energy to tackle climate change already a foregone conclusion by the Biden Administration, the federal government has firmly sided with UN Agenda 2030 ‘climate experts’ while ignoring American taxpayers. This means that unelected, unaccountable and autonomous experts decide what constitutes ‘clean and affordable’ energy. Not you, the taxpayer. This should not come as a surprise in light of President Biden’s recent declaration that the US will lead Agenda 2030’s new world order.
This makes wind energy developers the decided winners of the globalist’s green new world order. Like all lofty ideologies, it requires turning a blind eye to inconvenient consequences, like the ones this article raises.
Dirty Little Secrets of ‘Clean Energy’
Whereas fossil fuels get the blame for contributing to the climate crisis, Agenda 2030 proponents don’t like to talk about the nasty business of rare-earth mining required to make ‘clean renewable energy’ wind turbines and, for that matter, electric car batteries, solar panels, your cell phones, iPad or computer, and a host of electronics.
Rare-earth mining: The inconvenient truth is that rare-earth mining has its own fair share of environmental devastation, ground water pollution, and slave labor – to name a few – and requires the same fossil fuel machinery to extract and ship as with mining fossil fuels. Another reason rare-earth mining gets scant attention is because America’s ‘clean and affordable’ energy policies require that America becomes dependent on a single country which has a near monopoly (about 80%) as the dominant global supplier of rare-earth minerals: China.
Foreign companies reap the profits: The new mining opportunities in Idaho are being developed mostly by foreign countries. In Lemhi County, Australia firm Jervois Mining is on track to open the only underground cobalt mine in the U.S. First Cobalt, rebranded as Electra Battery Materials Corp., is a cobalt exploration and refinery company based in Toronto, Canada. (Former Idaho Gov. Butch Otter is on the Board). Phoenix Copper Limited in Custer County has re-opened the Empire Mine near Mackay, ID.
Wall Street with “Big” investors are coming to Idaho. They are interested in more than wind. Idaho Strategic Resources, Inc. recently announced their “Idaho Mining, Critical Minerals, and Water Resources” panel discussion was held April 19th in Boise over zoom. Midas Gold Mine has been bought by Perpetua Resources. Bill Gates is the financial backing with this purchase. They bought Midas Gold for Antimony for the development of liquid metal batteries.
Whatsmore, that dependence makes China the primary supplier of rare-earth minerals for America’s critical military defense systems, such as jet engines, satellites and lasers. This ostensibly means the Pentagon would need China’s permission to go to war. But China’s lead comes at a devastating cost to China’s environment, too. Read about China’s toxic lakes and radioactive waste here.
The collapse of American domestic rare-earth mining is by design, thanks to government red tape, bureaucratic inertia and Agenda 2030 ‘clean and affordable’ ideology. The emerging global energy crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine provides the perfect pretext to enact Agenda 2030 energy goals as envisioned by the International Energy Association’s 10-Point Plan to Cut Oil Use.
‘Clean’ energy waste: Another dirty secret of clean energy is that while wind power is carbon-free, about 85% of turbine components, including steel, copper wire, electronics and gearing, are recycled or reused, while the fiberglass blades remain difficult to dispose of. Just as with electric car batteries and solar panels, wind turbine blades have a lifespan. Tens of thousands of aging turbine blades are filling up landfills around the world. Urgent efforts to find ways to recycle blades are underway.
Will wind turbine projects on federal ground have any responsibility for impacting adjacent land owners? Ask your local Planning and Zoning.
When turbines go up, bird population go down: A recent study revealed that bird populations in California declined due to renewable energy facilities.
Sweetheart deals: Governor Brad Little signed an executive order in April of this year allowing mitigation of our sage-grouse. What does this mean? It means that private wind turbine companies can now be allowed on our public lands where sage-grouse are known to live. Under the guise of reducing an “overly restrictive federal land use, and “engaging in collaborative efforts with stakeholders and federal agencies” Little’s executive order tossed out approximately $5 million of taxpayer funding to increase data on sage-grouse populations and enhance 76,251 acres of sage grouse habitat since 2015, and let LS Power and Magic Valley Energy move in.
Which leads to one last dirty little secret of big wind. Endorsing wind energy means more votes for incumbent politicians. Read about it here.
We recommend reading the ‘The Myths of Green Energy’ here. A MUST WATCH is ‘The Renewable Energy Fail’ by John Stossel here. Only six minutes.
Below is Diana’s list of contacts which she developed while researching this article, so you know just who to call, and who to avoid.
You are not alone
Productive activism is most effective when citizens unite. Send us the responses you receive from the contacts and calls you make. We may include them in a future article about the project in the near future.
Sign up for the BLM Lava Ridge Subcommittee Site Tour on Wednesday, June 15. BLM is sponsoring an all-day site visit for the public. Deadline to sign up for the Tour is June 1. More information about signing up for the Tour is available on Stop Lava Ridge Facebook page. You can also sign up to join the Tour by emailing Julie Clark (email@example.com) at BLM.
Friends of Minidoka: They oppose the Project. They published Save Minidoka National Historic Site: Stop Lava Ridge Wind Project citing several objections due to its close proximity to the historic site. They are fighting hard.
Idaho Cattle Association: Only if you are a member, call 208-343-1615.
If you are a grazer, rancher or farmer being affected: contact Protect The Harvest.
If you are a member of Farm Bureau Insurance Company: each Farm Bureau district has a board that helps community decision making. They meet with commissioners and city leaders. They also reach out to the big wigs in Pocatello who then assemble their board and if decided at this point it goes to the federal politticle level.
Call your local office in your district and ask to speak to your board member. They will then reach out at the state level. Jerome: 208-34-4378. Twin Falls: 208-733-1329. Gooding : 208-934-8405.
If you are concerned about risks of electric magnetic fields (EMPs): The EPA recommends:
- Increase the distance between yourself and the source. The greater the distance between you and the source of EMF, the lower your exposure.
- Limit the time spent around the source. The less time you spend near EMF, the lower your exposure.
Federally Elected Servants:
When you call, keep in mind that because the project rests on federal land, states are only allowed to have input on the project.
Locally Elected Servants:
If you reside in Minidoka County: County Commissioners | Minidoka County, ID
If you reside in Lincoln County: Lincoln County Commissioners
If you reside in Jerome County: Commissioners | Jerome County, ID
If you reside in Twin Falls County: Commissioners – Twin Falls County
If you reside in Gooding County: Commissioners | Gooding County, ID
Governor Brad Little: Governor Brad Little – Idaho.gov
State of Idaho Department of Energy: 208-332-1660 Energy and Mineral Resources – Governor’s Office of – Idaho.gov
Diana has contacted all. Some did not reply, or the Lava Ridge Wind Turbine Project doesn’t fit their criteria or area of concern.
The Nature Conservancy in Idaho: They wrote a letter to the BLM to consider in their scoping report.but not willing to do anything further.
Idaho Chapter | Sierra Club: No answer.
International Dark-Sky Association: No reply to my email. The national level never answered either.
Idahodarksky.org: Good luck with this group.
Boise State University: Professor Jackson partners with NASA to protect Idaho’s starry sky
Boise State University Physics Department, Professor: No answer.
Idaho Conservation League: 208-345-6933. They wrote a letter for the BLM scoping report.
The Coalition To Protect America’s National Parks – Voices of … wrote a very good letter for the scoping report. Good read: Comments Regarding the Proposed Lava Ridge Wind Project. This group is from Washington DC.
The Tribes in Fort Hall are concerned that their ancestral heritage is being threatened.
The following were not responsive when Diana called:
City of Shoshone.
BLM Boise Office: their response to me was to call the Shoshone Office.
Idaho Farm Bureau: The State Level listened to me at length, then referred me to the local board level.
Send us the responses you receive from the contacts and calls you make. We may include them in a future article about the Project in the near future. If you are interested in joining with others to oppose this, MVLA will be glad to host a meeting of concerned citizens. Productive activism is most effective in numbers. We will help get a group started if there is enough interest. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.