SHOSHONE — A massive wind farm, Idaho’s largest, could break ground in the Magic Valley in 2022.
The final size and cost for the Lava Ridge Wind Project isn’t yet known, but the wind farm could be up to 1,000 megawatts with a price tag in the $1 billion range. At 1,000 MW and with hundreds of turbines, the wind farm wouldn’t just be Idaho’s largest, it would be among the biggest in the world.
“We’re in the early stages of this,” Magic Valley Energy Project Manager Luke Papez said. “(The specifics are) going to get worked out in the siting process.”
Magic Valley Energy will own Lava Ridge. The company is an affiliate of LS Power, an energy generation and transmission company with projects throughout the U.S. This will be LS Power’s first Idaho wind farm.
“It’s an exciting development for us,” Papez said.
The wind farm will be on a vast area of Bureau of Land Management land in parts of Jerome, Lincoln and Minidoka counties, mostly south of Idaho Highway 24. Shoshone and Dietrich are the only cities that will be relatively close to the project. The sheer amount of land, and the proximity of that land to major transmission lines, made this an attractive site for a wind farm, Papez said.
Most of the land that makes up the wind farm site is used for grazing and recreation. Papez said Lava Ridge will not disrupt those land uses.
Following construction, 20 full-time employees will operate and maintain Lava Ridge.
The Magic Valley hasn’t seen a new wind farm since 2012, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. South-central Idaho’s 18 wind farms are clustered between Hagerman and Mountain Home, and south of Burley.
Most of the region’s wind projects have been on the smaller side, with the exception of the 60-turbine, 138 MW Cold Springs wind project — currently the state’s largest according to the USGS — between Bliss and Mountain Home.
Papez said that this land in Jerome, Lincoln and Minidoka counties might not have been able to support a viable wind project just a few years ago. But the wind industry has changed a lot in recent years.
“Given the advancements in wind turbine technology and greater efficiency in turbines we’re able to look at sites such as this,” Papez said.
Magic Valley Energy does not have a buyer lined up for the electricity yet. Papez said some of the electricity could be sent out of state.
“There’s certainly a growing need all throughout the West for greater amounts of clean energy and carbon-free energy,” Papez said. “This could really put Idaho at the forefront of helping meet those needs across the West.”
Papez said that there will be public meetings and opportunities for public comment on the project in the future.