US Army Corps of Engineers
Norfolk District Website

NAO-2011-00081

Published March 6, 2013
Expiration date: 3/29/2013

The District Commander has received a joint application for Federal and State permits as described below:

Gamesa Energy USA, LLC
1801 Market Street, Suite 2700
Philadelphia, PA 19103

WATERWAY AND LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK:  The project is located in Chesapeake Bay, at Cape Charles, Northampton County, Virginia.

PROPOSED WORK AND PURPOSE:  The applicant proposes to install, maintain, and operate a single 5-Megawatt offshore turbine generator prototype and its supporting infrastructure near Cape Charles, Virginia.  The project will include the permanent alteration of 215 square feet of subaqueous bottom for the installation of a monopole foundation, and approximately 16, 240 square feet of subaqueous bottom at the base of the monopole foundation will be permanently altered by the installation of rock armoring for scour protection. This are will be transformed from a sandy, flat benthic habitat to a raised hard bottom feature, capable of supporting marine and estuarine life.  Also, a 3.2 mile long by 2 to 4 feet wide submarine cable will be installed from the turbine to Cape Charles resulting in temporary impacts to subaqueous bottom.  No vegetated wetlands will be impacted. The project avoids and minimizes impacts through specific site selection and design including; minimal impacts to aquatic, avian, and wetland tidewater resources, minimal potential for impact existing navigation and local area water uses, relatively short submarine cable route and overland run to facilitate interconnection with the existing onshore public transmission grids.

In addition to the required Department of the Army permit, the applicant must obtain a Virginia Water Protection Permit/401 certification from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality assuring that applicable laws and regulations pertaining to water quality are not violated and a permit from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.  Project drawings are attached.

AUTHORITY:  Permits are required pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403), Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act (Public Law 95-217) and

Title 62.1 of the Code of Virginia.

FEDERAL EVALUATION OF APPLICATION:  The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest.  The decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources.  The benefits which reasonably may be expected from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments.  All of the proposal's relevant factors will be considered, including conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, cultural values, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, flood plain values, land use classification, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, consideration of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people.  The Environmental Protection Agency's "Guidelines for Specification of Disposal Sites for Dredged or Fill Material" will also be applied (Section 404(b)(1) of the Clean Water Act). 

The Corps of Engineers is soliciting comments from the public; Federal, state, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of this proposed activity.  Any comments received will be considered by the Corps of Engineers to determine whether to issue, modify, condition or deny a permit for this proposal.  To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above.  Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.  Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.  Anyone may request a public hearing to consider this permit application by writing to the District Commander within 30 days of the date of this notice, stating specific reasons for holding the public hearing.  The District Commander will then decide if a hearing should be held.

Preliminary review indicates that:  (l) no environmental impact statement will be required; (2) there may be an affect to species of fish, wildlife, or plant (or their critical habitat) listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (PL 93-205) and the Species Conclusion Table is attached for review and comment by Fish and Wildlife Service; and (3) no known properties eligible for inclusion or included in the National Register of Historic Places are in or near the permit area, or would likely be affected by the proposal.  Additional information might change any of these findings. For compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended, the applicant must certify that federally licensed or permitted activities affecting Virginia's coastal zone (Tidewater) will be conducted in a manner consistent with the Virginia Coastal Resources Management Program (VCP) and obtain concurrence from the Department of Environmental Quality, Office of Environmental Impact Review. The applicant’s certification statement is attached to this Public Notice and we are requesting review by the Office of Environmental Review for concurrence or objection.

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-267), requires all Federal agencies to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service on all actions, or proposed actions, permitted, funded, or undertaken by the agency, that may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH).   The Lower Chesapeake Bay contains Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for the all life stages of 5 species including: Atlantic butterfish (Peprilus triacanthus), king mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla), Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus maculatus), cobia (Rachycentron canadum), red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus); larvae, juvenile, and adult stages of 2 species including; summer flounder (Paralicthys dentatus), sandbar shark (Charcharinus plumbeus); juvenile and adult stages for Three life stages for 5 species including: red hake (Urophycis chuss), windowpane flounder (Scopthalmus aquosus), bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), scup (Stenotomus chrysops), black sea bass (Centropristus striata); larvae and juvenile stages of: dusky shark (Charcharinus obscurus); and larvae stage of: sand tiger shark (Odontaspis taurus): adult stage of 2 species: Atlantic sea herring (Clupea harengus), and Atlantic sharpnose shark (Rhizopriondon terraenovae).  The habitat which this project would affect consists of subtidal waters.  The proposed project is described in Proposed Work and Purpose, above.  The proposed work will affect EFH during construction activities to install the monopole and trench the submarine cable.  Our assessment of the project leads us to a preliminary determination that it will not have a substantial adverse effect on EFH and therefore expanded EFH consultation is not required.  Our rationale for this preliminary determination is based on the expected short-term nature of the direct impacts substrate.  Based on comments from the National Marine Fisheries Service in response to this public notice, further EFH consultation may be necessary.

COMMENT PERIOD:  Comments on this project should be made in writing, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN:  CENAO-WR-R), PO Box 125, Greenbackville, Virginia 23356, and should be received by the close of business on March 29, 2013.

PRIVACY & CONFIDENTIALITY:  Comments and information, including the identity of the submitter, submitted in response to this Public Notice may be disclosed, reproduced, and distributed at the discretion of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Information that is submitted in connection with this Public Notice cannot be maintained as confidential by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Submissions should not include any information that the submitter seeks to preserve as confidential.

If you have any questions about this project or the permit process, contact Robert Cole at 757-903-1562 or Robert.h.cole@usace.army.mil

FOR THE DISTRICT COMMANDER:
Kimberly A. Prisco-Baggett, MBA
Chief, Eastern Virginia
Regulatory Section

Attachment: Drawings

CZM Consistency Statement
Species Conclusion Table
Regulatory GIS Report
Official Species List