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3:49 AM Thu, Nov. 15th

Federal agencies to hold meeting on environmental study for power plant

An environmental study on a natural gas-fired power plant proposed for the Wikieup area will be the subject of a meeting to be conducted by two federal agencies Wednesday evening in Wikieup.

The U.S.

Bureau of Land Management and Western Area Power Administration have scheduled a public information and scoping meeting on the environmental impact statement for the Big Sandy Energy Project.

The meeting starts with an hourlong open house at 6 p.m.

Wednesday in Owens Whitney School, 14109 Chicken Springs Road.

Both agencies are urging the public to attend so that they can help to focus the environmental impact statement, said Sally Edwards, a consultant to the BLM.

The meeting comes more than two weeks after the Mohave County Supervisors approved the general plan amendment and rezone to allow Caithness Big Sandy LLC to build the 520-megawatt power plant on 120 acres southeast of Wikieup.

Several Wikieup residents expressed fears about the effects of the plant on the water supply.

Edwards said, "We have already outlined some issues that we know about: surface water and groundwater and the visual effects of the plant."

Melissa Chiechi, a spokeswoman for WAPA in Phoenix, concurred with Edwards about the importance of the scoping meeting.

"It's important that the public come and share their views and let us know what their issues are," she said.

"I think it is also important for everybody to know there will be a lot of information at this meeting, with the exhibits and photo simulations."

The simulations will be computer-altered photos that show what the power plant would look like, Chiechi said.

Representatives from WAPA, the BLM and Caithness Big Sandy LLC will be on hand to answer questions, Edwards said.

WAPA requires an EIS because the agency must approve additional electricity that will be carried on its transmission line grid, Edwards said.

The BLM requires the study because Caithness must build a natural gas pipeline across BLM-administered lands to supply the power plant.

Edwards said she expects the draft EIS to be completed in the fall, with the final study due early next year.

"I look forward to working with the people in the area," said Edwards, based in Fort Collins, Colo.

'I went down (to Wikieup) and posted posters.

I don't think (Wikieup residents) are necessarily against the plant.

I think they are concerned about their long-term quality of life."