Camas Prairie, Elmore County, Idaho

All posts by Tim Bondy

All Five Cat Creek Energy Permits “Were” Dependent Upon Each Other

The Master Site Plan changed again?

 

The story of the five Cat Creek Energy conditional use permits (CUPs) that John Faulkner applied for in 2015 gets lost in the grand scheme of his ill-conceived project. However, the fact that Cat Creek Energy sold their five-part mega-energy project as one complete project to the residents of Elmore County and many other entities is crucial to understand.

The Elmore County P & Z entire hearing and deliberation process was based on Cat Creek Energy’s insistence that the entire mega-project had to be approved as one. Cat Creek repeatedly said, if all five permits were not approved, their project would not be economically viable and they’d have to cancel it.

In 2017, the Cat Creek developers convinced the Elmore County Commissioners that all five CUPs were no longer required in order to build out their mega-energy project. In other words, all those residents who said:

Cat Creek will never get state or federal approval for the reservoir or sprawling wind farm so we don’t need to even worry about the project being ever approved,” were fooled by our elected officials.

Well, guess what? The County Commissioners, by separating all the CUPs, has made it possible for Cat Creek Energy to build what they want, where they want and when they want and the residents never had any input into that huge modification in the Master Site Plan.

When the S Bar Ranch filed a Petition for Judicial Review on March 7, 2019, with the district court, they highlighted this fact for Judge Nancy Baskin to consider. We hope the honorable judge will see this lack of public oversight and remand the entire project back to the Director of the P&Z Commission. Only then will the county residents be able to provide proper feedback to these local decision-makers.

Reference: See Page 8 after download the full petition at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/

The P&Z Commission found that “five (5) separate applications, each for a conditional use permit are required.” The P&Z Commission further found that “based on testimony from the Applicant, all five (5) applications are dependent upon each other and cannot exist separately.

Therefore the Commission conducted only one (1) public hearing and issued only one (1) decision on the Applications.” The Commission found that the
“Owners” of the Site are Sawtooth Grazing Association and Wood Creek Ranch, both at 1989 South 1875 East, Gooding, ID 83330 and that the Applicant’s property right in the Site is based on lease agreements. The property size is approximately 23,000 acres, all of which is owned or controlled by John Faulkner.

The Commission found that the applicable law for consideration of the Applications was:

A) the Elmore County 2014 Comprehensive Plan, adopted as Resolution 56215 on January 20, 2014 (the “Comprehensive Plan”);

B) Zoning Ordinance, adopted March 21, 2012, as Ordinance
201201; which was subsequently amended on September 19, 2012, as Ordinance 201203 and on July 14, 2014, As Ordinance 201401; and

C) the Local Land Use Planning Act, I.C. § 676501 et seq. [Exh. 4 at R. 007297007298] ”

If you have concerns about the Cat Creek Energy project, please contact your elected officials and tell them you oppose the entire project and why.
Here is a link with many of the people you might want to contact: https://catcreek-energy.com/mailing-addresses-for-cat-creek-energy-issues/
Also, please share this post with friend, family, and co-workers so they also understand how horrible the Cat Creek Energy project will be for Elmore County.

 

Thanks.

 

Originally published on March 19, 2019.

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A Judge Could Review the County Commissioner’s Decision of Approve the Cat Creek Project

The long, complex and contentious Cat Creek Energy project approval process started in 2016 and bit and pieces are still being worked out at the local level. While the Cat Creek Energy project still has some state and federal obstacles to overcome before they can officially ruin the Elmore County backcountry the S Bar Ranch isn’t sitting idly by.

On March 7, 2019, the owner of the S Bar Ranch filed a petition with the Fourth District Court asking a judge to review the decisions that Commissioner’s Bud Corbus, Al Hofer and Wes Wootan made regarding the nearly 4,000 acre Cat Creek Energy mega-project. The 64-page petition can be downloaded at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/ but we realize some resident don’t have the time to review such an extensive legal document, no matter how well it was written (it’s mostly plain language and tells a troubling story).

Just Some “Bit and Pieces” of the Document

Below you’ll find some actual snippets from the legal document to whet your appetite and give you a reason to spend a few hours reading about how entrenched the “good 0ld boy” network has become in our local government. So, here goes.

Page 9 / P & Z Deny all Conditional Use Permits in Aug 2016
On June 15, 2016, the Elmore County Planning and Zoning Commission (“P&Z Commission”) met to consider the applications. The P&Z Commission heard testimony from the Developer, representatives of the Developer, and others individuals who supported the Project, some individuals who were neutral and several individuals who opposed the Project. On July 13, 2016, the Elmore P&Z Commission conducted deliberations of the applications for the CUPs. On August 17, 2016, the P&Z Commission unanimously, on a 60 vote with one member absent, voted to deny the applications.

 

Page 10 / The Project Does not Comply With County Ordinance
The Commission made several findings that the proposed project conflicts with the Comprehensive Plan with regard to Private Property Rights Objectives, Land Use Objectives, Scenic Area Objectives, Hazardous Area Objectives, andAreas of Critical Concern Objectives.
The Commission further found that the Project failed to comply with the applicable Zoning Ordinances, including Title 6, and the applicable State and Federal regulations. The Commission concluded that the Applications do not comply with the required findings set forth in Section 6277 of the Zoning Ordinances
.

 

Page 30 / Conflicts of Interest
The Board of Commissioners have a conflict of interest that violates I.C. § 67-6506 and other law, and prevents them from serving as a neutral quasi-judicial body in this contested matter that is pending before the Board. The conflict arises from the fact that the County is
requiring, as a condition for issuance of CUP-2015-04 and the other CUPs, that the Developer agree to divert and deliver water from Anderson Ranch Dam to the County using the Developer’s infrastructure. In other words, the County has a vested beneficial interest in approving the granting of hydro CUP and the other CUPs, which prevents the Board from serving as a neutral decision maker as required by law.

A further conflict of interest is created by the fact that Commissioner Hofer purportedly stepped away from his duties as a Commissioner and acted as a negotiator representing the County in negotiations with the Cat Creek representatives to reach agreement on the terms of the Development Agreement. Those ex parte communications were not disclosed to the Petitioner or the public. The Development Agreement, negotiated by Commissioner Hofer, was then submitted to Commissioner Hofers fellow Commissioners for their approval. Knowing that the
terms of the Development Agreement submitted to Commissioners Wooten and Corbus had been negotiated and approved by Commissioner Hofer, there was no way that Commissioners Wooten and Corbuscould remain neutral and perform their duties as neutral decision makers regarding the terms of the Development Agreement.

 

Page 52 / The Board’s Decisions Violate Due Process Because Two of Its Members Had Ex Parte Communications with Cat Creek
During the December 22, 2017, public hearing, Commissioner
Wootan acknowledged the Commissioners had been communicating among themselves regarding the project and decided they wanted to make the project work. In response to comments from a representative of Cat
Creek that they would work with the Board to put a deal together 
that works for Cat Creek and the County, CommissionerWootan stated: Were already to that point. Weve already communicated among ourselves that were workable, that we want to make their project work,
and we want to make our intent happen.Obviously, the Board had decided to approve the project, regardless of the publics input in the decision, in violation of due process.

Download the 64-page document at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/

 

What is Next and What We Expect – 16 May 2019

The next court hearing will be on May 16, 2019, at 3 p.m. in Boise, Idaho before Judge Nancy Baskin.  That is when S Bar Ranch will present oral arguments in support of our case and ask the judge to rule that the actions of the County are invalid and to remand it back to the Director of the Elmore County P&Z Commission.  

We believe Judge Baskin will take the decision under advisement and render a written decision as early as July 2019.

 

Take Action Before it is too Late

There are many actions you can take that will send a clear message to the Elmore County Commissioners, the State of Idaho and even our federal government. 

Contact the Elmore County Commissioners and tell them you are opposed to the Cat Creek Energy project. 

Contact your State Representative and State Senator and tell them to find a way to stop the Cat Creek Energy project before it ruins our Idaho backcounty, hunting grounds and fisheries. 

Contact Senator’s Crapo, Senator Risch, Congressman Simpson, and Congressman Fulcher.

We’ve put together a list of contact information for all the elected official mentioned above at https://catcreek-energy.com/mailing-addresses-for-cat-creek-energy-issues/ 

 

Share, Share and Share Some More

There are many people in and around Elmore County that still do not know about the Cat Creek Energy project and how badly it will affect wildlife, fishing, water quality and hunting. Please share this information with your friends, family, and co-workers.

 

Thanks.

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Wake Turbulence and Cat Creek Energy Wind Farm

There are many different groups that are opposed to part or all of the Cat Creek Energy mega project. A new group of professionals and/or hobbyist spoke up about the proposed wind farm on Camas Prairie. The forty, 500+ foot tall wind turbines that the developers want to put up greatly concern some local general aviation folks.

What is General Aviation?

THE SIMPLE ANSWER: General aviation is all civilian flying except scheduled passenger airline service. AS SIMPLE AS THAT? Yes. And as complex as that. General aviation includes flying as diverse as overnight package delivery and a weekend visit back home; as different as emergency medical evacuation and inspection trips to remote construction sites; as complimentary as aerial application to keep crops healthy and airborne law enforcement to keep the peace. General aviation benefits the community in so many ways, it’s hard to cover them all. (https://www.aopa.org/-/media/files/aopa/home/advocacy/what_ga.pdf)

 

Why General Aviation Pilots Might be Opposed to the Cat Creek Wind Turbines?

  1. The first and most obvious problem with the Cat Creek Energy wind turbine would be the in-flight obstruction danger they present. Just think of one of those huge turbine blades reaching up to swat a Cessna Skyhawk out of the skies as it flies from Arco, Idaho to St. Luke’s Hospital in Mountain Home.
  2. The wake turbulence created by wind turbines would also present some challenges to general aviation also. And with Cat Creek Energy planning to erect wind turbines as tall as 5-story building on the crest of Cat Creek Summit, that turbulence wouldn’t be welcome and should be considered a flying hazard.

 

“The taller the obstacle, the larger the wind shade. If the turbine is closer to the obstacle than five times the obstacle height, or if the obstacle is taller than half the hub height, the results will be more uncertain, because they will depend on the exact geometry of the obstacle. (http://www.inforse.org/europe/dieret/Wind/wind.html)

 

Take Action

If you oppose any part of the Cat Creek Energy project, your elected officials need to hear about your concerns. And because many residents living in the area have little or no idea what could happen if the project is allowed to move forward, we are asking you to help spread the word.

Contact Elmore County Commissioners at https://elmorecounty.org/contact/ or by mail at …

BOCC
150 South 4th East
Mountain Home, ID 83647

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Will Highway 20 Become the Next Wind Turbine Corridor?

Is this the future of Highway 20? We hope not.

The segment of Highway 20 that Roger Brooks, an international tourism expert called “one of the best drives in Idaho” could easily become the next wind turbine corridor in the state.

That segment of highway Rogers Brooks was referring to, runs from just north of Mountain Home to Camas Prairie and into our mountain communities of Pine and Featherville.

Cat Creek Energy already has plans to put up forty, 500+ foot tall wind turbines along Cat Creek Summit and partially down the Pine-Featherville Road. We also know that Cat Creek is having troubles getting federal approval for the Pumped Storage Hydroelectric project on the bluffs above and interconnected with Anderson Ranch Reservoir. The developers have stated many times in the past that all three portions of their mega-energy project need to be approved to make it financially viable. If Cat Creek cannot get state or federal approval for the hydroelectric portion, they will likely have to make up for the megawatt shortage by putting up additional wind turbines along Highway 20.

Wind Power Friendly California Rebels Against New Turbines

According to an article on the Daily Wire website (https://www.dailywire.com/news/44146/b-b-climate-change-california-county-kills-plans-paul-bois), the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors voted to ban the construction of large solar and wind farms on more than 1 million acres of private land.

Local residents say that solar and wind farms destroy areas like Dagget, Joshua Tree and Lucerne Valley by turning the landscape into eyesores. Sara Fairchild, a resident of Pioneertown, has been working to have California Highway 247 turned into a designated state scenic highway to boost the local economy; she says that would all fall apart in the face of a mega solar farm.”

The local San Bernardino government listened to residents when they asked for a moratorium on new wind and solar farms in the rural parts of the county. Basically, the people said why grow wind and solar farms when we can grow a more profitable tourism industry that won’t destroy the scenery.

What they actually said was basically the same thing opponents to the Cat Creek Energy project are saying.

These vast open areas are precious for their natural, historical and recreational qualities. But they are fragile, and no amount of mitigation can counter the damage that industrial-scale renewable energy projects would cause,” Fairchild told the supervisors. “Once destroyed, these landscapes can never be brought back.”

The big difference between the California mega-energy project locations and the planned Cat Creek Energy location is our Elmore County, Idaho location contains verified wildlife migration corridors, the “threatened” bull trout and no need for the energy Cat Creek says they want to generate.

Spread the Word / Tell the Elected Official We Don’t Want CCE

The Elmore County Commissioners tentatively approved the Cat Creek Energy project even after their own planning and zoning commission said “no way.”

If you are opposed to the Cat Creek Energy project, take action today.

Contact Elmore County Commissioners Corbus, Wootan and Hofer at:

https://elmorecounty.org/contact/

or

  • Bud Corbus – Phone: (208) 587-2129 ext. 505 Phone: (208)599-1294
  • Wes Wootan – Phone: (208) 587-2129 ext. 505 Phone: (208)599-3131
  • Al Hofer – Phone: (208)587-2129 ext. 505 Phone: (208) 599-1620

and/or

Mail Address:

BOCC
150 South 4th East
Mountain Home, ID 83647

 

In addition, you might consider sharing this post with friends, family, and co-workers.

 

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Contact the Elmore County Commissioners From Their Website

Contact your county commissioner.

 

Sometime in the last weeks of February 2019, Elmore County finally made a “Contact the Board of County Commissioners” form available to citizens.

This is good news as the online form makes it easier to express your opinions and give feedback to these elected officials.

To access the contact form:

  • Point your browser to https://elmorecounty.org/contact/
  • Under the “Which Department or Person are you trying to contact?” click the dropdown menu and choose “Board of County Commissioner.“
  • Fill in all of the input boxes and submit the form.

 

I always make a copy of what I send to our elected officials before submitting via an online form, including the date and time I sent my feedback. I find that sometimes the online submission form is broken and other times, I get no response from the person I was contacting. Having a record of the who, what, where and when makes follow up questions easier.

 

Your Elmore County Commissioners

Bud Corbus (R) – Commissioner District 1 – Term expires Jan 2021
Wesley Wootan (R) – Commissioner District 2 – Term expires Jan. 2021
Albert Hofer (R) – Commissioner District 3 – Term expires Jan. 2023

Shelley Essl is the Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) and can be contacted by using the web form at https://elmorecounty.org/contact/ or at
150 South 4th East, Suite 3
Mountain Home, Idaho 83647
Phone: 208.587.2130 Extension 500

 

Reference: A Nov. 29, 2018 post at https://catcreek-energy.com/why-we-ask-you-to-write-a-letter/

 

 

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FERC Requests Info from Cat Creek Energy

Proposed Cat Creek Energy Project

In a previous post dated Feb 26, 2019, we highlighted the fact that the FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) has requested additional information from Cat Creek Energy (CCE).  This is a request regarding a successive preliminary permit application for their Pumped Storage Hydroelectric project.
The Cat Creek Energy project will get more complicated as the developers start interacting with state and federal entities before they can move ahead with the project.  We feel it’s important for all Elmore County residents to understand the entire process.

Reference: http://catcreek-energy.com/ferc-request-cat-creek-provide-additional-information-by-march-8-2019/

We Think It’s Important to Understand the FERC Requests For Information

The FERC has requested Cat Creek Energy provide information, action and/or documentation regarding two different issues.  These requests apply to their bid to use public land and infrastructure for the pumped storage hydroelectric portion of their mega-energy project.  This project will affect the backcountry of Elmore County, Idaho.

Background for FERC Request #1: Cat Creek Energy wants to build a new reservoir, including a dam on the bluffs above Anderson Ranch Reservoir. They will use water from Anderson to fill their 100,000 acre/foot reservoir.  This will require using six, 15-foot diameter pipes/penstocks.

The bull trout lives in Anderson Ranch Reservoir. It thrives because of the pristine and stable environment found within the South Fork of the Boise River basin, including Anderson Ranch. The bull trout is listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Government.

FERC Request #1: The FERC has requested that CCE show proof of the actions and/or geotechnical studies they have, or will commission in the future, regarding how they will mitigate the effects that their pumped storage hydroelectric project will have on the threatened bull trout.
Remember, the bull trout lives in Anderson Ranch Reservoir, just 1,000 feet from their planned dam/reservoir on Little Camas Prairie. The two reservoirs will be interconnected if Cat Creek gets the approval to move ahead with the project.

By Brambleshire – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17074506

 

Background on FERC Request #2: Cat Creek Energy entered into a “Lease of Power Privilege” (LOPP) with the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) for the use of Anderson Ranch Reservoir. The Bureau of Reclamation has indicated that CCE has yet to provide the required funding to move ahead with the lease agreement.

FERC Request #2: The FERC has requested CCE initiate and memorialize the critical payments and actions required by the “Lease of Power Privilege” (LOPP) agreement.

 

Cat Creek Energy has until March 8, 2019, to fully respond to these two Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requests for information.

 

 

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FERC Request Cat Creek Provide Additional Information by March 8, 2019

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has requested additional information from Cat Creek Energy, LLC regarding their planned Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project on Little Camas Prairie. Cat Creek Energy has until March 8, 2019, to answer the questions contained in the “Schedule A” document located at the bottom of this post.

The letter and Schedule A can also be directly downloaded here … http://catcreek-energy.com/download/874/


FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D. C. 20426
February 21, 2019

OFFICE OF ENERGY PROJECTS

 

Project No. 14655-001–Idaho
Cat Creek Energy Generation Facility
Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project
Cat Creek Energy, LLC

 

James Carkulis
Cat Creek Energy, LLC 398 S. 9th Street, Suite 240
Boise, ID 83702

Subject: Additional Information Request Dear Mr. Carkulis:

After reviewing your successive preliminary permit application filed on November 9, 2018, for the Cat Creek Energy Generation Facility Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project No. 14655-001 and the comments filed on the application, additional information is needed to continue processing your application. Please provide the information requested in Schedule A within 15 days from the date of this letter.

The Commission strongly encourages electronic filing. Please file the requested information using the Commission’s eFiling system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs- filing/efiling.asp. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at FERCOnlineSupport@ferc.gov, (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY). In lieu of electronic filing, please send a paper copy to: Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE, Washington, D.C. 20426. The first page of any filing should include docket number P-14655-001.

If you have any questions concerning this letter, please call Karen Sughrue at (202) 502-8556.

 

Sincerely,

~ signed ~

For David Turner,
Chief Northwest Branch
Division of Hydropower Licensing

 


Enclosure:  Schedule A
Project No. 14655-001

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

 

1. In section (iii) of Exhibit 2 of your application, you request a waiver of section 4.81(c)(2) of the Commission’s regulations, which requires the filing of a work plan for new dam construction. S Bar Ranch, LLC, in its motion to intervene and protest, objects to this waiver request.

Section 4.81(c)(3) of the Commission’s regulations allows the Commission to waive the requirements of paragraph (c)(2) upon a showing by the applicant that the field studies, tests, and other activities to be conducted under the permit would not adversely affect cultural resources or endangered species and would cause minor alterations or disturbances of lands and waters, and that any land altered or disturbed would be adequately restored. The federally listed bull trout and its critical habitat are within the proposed project boundary at the Anderson Ranch Reservoir. Neither your permit or the project record clearly describes if you intend to conduct geotechnical studies during the term of the successive permit.

If you intend to conduct geotechnical studies, you must either demonstrate that the studies will not affect cultural resources or endangered species and result in minimal disturbance to land and waters, or file a work plan. In the latter case, the work plan must contain: (i) a description, including the approximate location, of any field study, test, or other activity that may alter or disturb lands or waters in the vicinity of the proposed project, including floodplains and wetlands; measures that would be taken to minimize any such disturbance; and measures that would be taken to restore the altered or disturbed areas; and (ii) a proposed schedule (a chart or graph may be used), the total duration of which does not exceed the proposed term of the permit, showing the intervals at which the studies, investigations, tests, and surveys, identified under this paragraph are proposed to be completed.

2. As explained in your original permit, the proposed project would require a Lease of Power Privilege (LOPP) from the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) for the use of Anderson Ranch Reservoir. Letters filed by Reclamation on April 4, 2017 and January 31, 2019, indicate that you have begun that LOPP process by receiving approval from Reclamation on October 17, 2016 to be a preliminary leasee for a five- year period. The January 31, 2019 filing also indicates that you have entered into a contributed-funds-agreement contract with Reclamation on May 9, 2017. However both letters indicate that you have not provided the required funding for Reclamation’s review of the project, entered into a preliminary LOPP agreement with Reclamation, or begun conducting the studies required by Reclamation to evaluate project impacts. The letters also indicate that Reclamation does not intend to commit resources to processing your proposed project until the required funding is provided. Reclamation’s January 31, 2019, filing states that if you are still interested in this project that it is critical to initiate these steps to attempt to complete the required LOPP steps by October 16, 2021.

Therefore, please file an update on your efforts at conducting the LOPP process steps with noted in Reclamation’s January 31, 2019 letter.

 

 

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