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Magic Valley Energy Holds Meetings For Proposed Wind Project

A small portion of a wind farm with about five turbines is in a wide open field with mountains in the background.
Adam Cotterell
Boise State Public Radio

Magic Valley Energy wants to build a wind farm in south central Idaho. With about 400 turbines, it would be the largest wind project in Idaho, producing as much as 1,000 megawatts of power.

Though the project is not yet approved, the developer is hosting town halls this week for community input. The first is on Friday at the College of Southern Idaho at 4 p.m., and the second is on Saturday at the Lincoln County Community Center in Shoshone at 3 p.m.

The project site is predominately in Lincoln County, but also extends into Jerome and Minidoka counties. Construction could start as early as next year.

Luke Papez, the director of project development for LS Power, Magic Valley Energy's parent company, said so far, locals are curious about the impact of the large wind project to their communities.

“What are the anticipated impacts to wildlife, to ranching operations, to recreation in the project area?" he said people have asked.

The company will talk about those things during the information sessions, but they'll also be the focus of an Environmental Impact Statement by the Bureau of Land Management. The majority of the project area is on BLM land, so the agency is going through the National Environmental Policy Act review process, and is on track to have a final impact statement and decision by next summer.

Community members are also curious about the economic impact of the project. Papez said the two-year construction process would require about 700 employees. They’d need to create access roads, prepare the foundation for the turbines, assemble them, erect the towers and attach the blades.

Once complete, the project would need about 20 full-time workers.

Some of those jobs could be filled by students in the College of Southern Idaho's Renewable Energy Systems Technology Program, which is hosting the project's first information session this week.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says wind turbine technicians are likely to be one of the country’s fastest growing occupations in the next decade.

Once construction is complete, Magic Valley Energy said the project could contribute $4 million to local economies annually.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

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