Tom Ewing’s Regulatory Update

Really, they are endangered: Manzana Wind LLC seeks an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) from the Fish & Wildlife Service to authorize take of the federally endangered California condor incidental to “otherwise lawful activities associated with operation of the existing Manzana Wind Power Project.”  In this context, “take” means to kill.  The project began operations in 2012 and is in the Antelope Valley region of Kern County, California, along the southern foothills of the Tehachapi Mountains.  Manzana submitted a draft conservation plan that is to be protective of condors overall, notwithstanding, of course, the errant creature that might not be aware of all of this well-meaning human planning.  Comments are due 02/05/21.

Versatile Test Reactor: The Department of Energy (DOE) announced availability of a draft Versatile Test Reactor Environmental Impact Statement (VTR EIS) and a public comment period and public hearings to receive comments.  The Draft evaluates the potential environmental impacts of alternatives for constructing and operating a versatile test reactor (VTR).  DOE explains that limited fast-neutron-spectrum-testing capabilities only exist outside the US.  DOE needs to develop the capability for large-scale testing, accelerated testing, and qualification of advanced nuclear fuels, materials, instrumentation and sensors. This testing capability is essential for the United States to modernize its nuclear energy infrastructure and for “developing transformational nuclear energy technologies.”  Public comments are due on or around February 15.  Dates will be announced for the two public hearings.

Wiring the future: CT’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Army Corps of Engineers released separate documents at the end of 2020 that provide a clear insight and profile of the challenges ahead to transform the electric grid into one that will function (hopefully) when the grid is completely dependent on renewable generation.  (I have a longer commentary on this on my web site.)  Both agencies are seeking public comments.  DEEP will hold virtual public hearings.  This work needs close review and portends difficult choices.  Early studies, for example, indicate the New England grid can handle estimated levels of 2030 wind energy.  Maybe, DEEP notes, but that’s not the same as full grid integration, meaning that a significant amount of offshore power may not be deliverable to customers.  “There may be a need,” DEEP writes, “for additional transmission infrastructure to reliably export power out of Cape Cod.”  DEEP’s reference is to 345 kV transmission infrastructure.

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