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Alameda County, CA, acgov.org

Albert Lopez
Planning Director
Planning

Current Development Projects


Altamont Winds, Inc. Permit Modification - Application No. PLN2014-28

The project consists of modifications to extend existing Conditional Use Permits (CUPs) for wind turbines owned by the Applicant (Altamont Winds, Inc., or AWI) through October 2018. The CUPs were previously approved in 2005 for the continued operation of wind farm assets developed originally in the 1980s and 1990s and located throughout the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (APWRA). As approved in 2005, the CUPs required phased decommissioning in steps in 2009 (10% of its turbines), 2013 (an additional 25%), 2015 (50% more, for a combined 85%) and final shutdown in 2018 (100%), in order to enable repowering of the assets with new generation turbines that have been shown to substantially reduce avian mortality in the APWRA. The Applicant shut down 10% of its turbines in 2009, thus reducing its operating capacity from about 95 megawatts (MW) to approximately 86 MWs, but in 2011 applied to modify its CUPs to eliminate phased decommissioning in 2013 and to cease operations after 2015 (PLN2011-102). This modification was evaluated in an Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) prepared in 2013 pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which also addressed decommissioning activities (removing the turbines and completing site reclamation). The EIR was certified and the modifications were approved in 2013. Information regarding the EIR and approval of those modifications is available at the webpage for Wind Turbine Projects, under Altamont Winds, Inc. Permit Modification - Application No. PLN2011-102.

The current project is a second modification of the CUPs that would provide for the Applicant's wind farm turbines to be shut down by the end of 2018 and decommissioned thereafter. The County of Alameda prepared a Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) for the extension of the CUPs through 2018. The Draft SEIR (DSEIR) was published in November 2014 and circulated for public comment through January 12, 2015. Comments received on the DSEIR are included in the FSEIR, together with responses to the comments, and necessary revisions to the text of the DSEIR. Within the 55-day comment period, the County held one public hearing, on December 18, 2014. The FSEIR was certified by the East County Board of Zoning Adjustments (EBZA) at a hearing on Monday, February 2, 2015, and the EBZA also voted to deny the proposed CUP modifications, having been unable to make the findings required by CEQA to approve the project.

The County subsequently received an appeal by Audubon California and some of its regional affiliated chapters of the decision to certify the SEIR, and a separate appeal by AWI of the decision to deny the project. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing to consider the appeals on March 24, 2015, and after taking extensive comments from the Appellants and the public, voted to certify the EIR, and to approve the CUP extensions. The Board directed staff to return at a subsequent meeting with revisions of the resolutions for the SEIR and the project reflecting the Board's approval, including Exhibits A, B and C, respectively the Written Findings of Significant Effects, Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program, and Statement of Overriding Considerations. The Resolutions regarding certification of the SEIR and approval of the project were adopted on May 5, 2015.

In February 2015, an asset exchange of wind turbines was completed, in which approximately 290 turbines owned by Green Ridge Power, LLC (GRP, an operating entity of NextEra Energy Resources) north of Interstate I-580 within the APWRA were transferred to AWI, in exchange for approximately 290 turbines transferred from AWI to GRP, all located south of I-580. This asset exchange served to disentangle shared turbine assets south of I 580, in which the two companies operated turbines on common properties. The exchange, while enabling AWI to maintain production of renewable energy at the same level as in 2014 within the APWRA through October 2018, the end of its term under the now modified CUPs, also allowed all of those turbines south of I 580 to be decommissioned to accommodate repowering of the area by Golden Hills Wind, LLC (an affiliate of Green Ridge Power, LLC). Information regarding the Golden Hills Wind project is also available at the webpage for Wind Turbine Projects, under APWRA Repowering - Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) (PLN2014-00032). A total of six CUPs applied to properties south of I-580 with turbines owned by AWI; two were withdrawn at the EBZA hearing in February 2015 (C-8216 & C-8243) and four others withdrawn upon execution of the final exchange agreement between AWI and GRP later in February 2015 (C-8235, C-8244, C 8137 & C-8191). AWI now holds two CUPs for turbines it acquired in the exchange that were not previously associated with AWI (C-8231 and C 8239). The net result is that while AWI applied originally to modify 16 CUPs, it now holds 12 CUPs, and all of the privileges, responsibilities and conditions of approval of the Board of Supervisors' May 2015 Resolutions apply to all 12 CUPs held by AWI.

Resolution Documents for May 5, 2015

Appeal Hearing Documents for March 25, 2015

CEQA Documents

Notices, Planning Staff Reports, Exhibits and Resolutions


Staff Contacts

Sandra Rivera, Assistant Deputy Director
(510) 670-6526

Andrew Young, Project Planner
(510) 670-5400


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