Caney River Wind Farm

Location: Elk County, Kan.

Client: Tradewind Energy

Completion Date: 2008 - ongoing

Caney River Wind Farm LLC, a dba of Tradewind Energy, has developed and constructed the 200-megawatt (MW) Caney River Wind Energy Project approximately 40 miles southeast of Wichita in Elk County, Kan. The project review area was approximately 15,000 acres. The proposed facilities include wind turbine generators, access roads, electrical collection system, substations and overhead electrical interconnection lines, as well as laydown and setup areas for equipment storage and construction. Most of the construction activities and placement of facilities occurred on upland pasture, prairie or rangeland.

  • Greater prairie chicken lek survey
  • Stick nest survey
  • Wetland identification and delineation
  • Habitat assessment
  • Phase I avian and bat study
  • Cultural resources consultation
  • Noise study
  • Shadow flicker analysis
  • NEPA consultation
  • Environmental assessment
  • Avian and Bat Protection Plan (ABPP)

Burns & McDonnell conducted threatened and endangered species surveys including four years of greater prairie chicken lek surveys at the project site. In addition, Burns & McDonnell conducted a wetland delineation, habitat assessment, cultural resources survey, noise analysis, shadow flicker analysis and services, avian stick nest surveys, avian and bat risk assessments, development of a project-specific Avian and Bat Protection Plan (ABPP), and training modules for implementation of the ABPP and proper best management practices (BMPs).

In 2010, Caney River entered into a potential 20-year power purchase agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). TVA's involvement necessitated the preparation of a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)-compliant Environmental Assessment (EA). Burns & McDonnell acted as the third-party NEPA consultant in preparing the EA in support of Caney River and TVA. The EA included a review of wetlands, protected species, cultural resources, land use, floodplains, proximity to airports, sensitive areas, visibility, noise, etc. As part of this report, a permitting review was also completed to determine which permits and/or other studies may be required for this wind project. The EA was posted by TVA for public comment on Oct. 11, 2010. A Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was issued by TVA on May 13, 2011.

The project is located in the Flint Hills, an area with the largest remaining expanse of unplowed tallgrass prairie in the region. Caney River conducted additional voluntary consultations with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and committed to a tallgrass prairie conservation plan, involving restoration of prairie on the wind project site and purchase of easements on additional tallgrass prairie nearby in order to initiate a restoration program.