Section National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. The CWA authorizes EPA to implement the NPDES program. However, EPA has delegated its authority to most states and some Indian tribes. In those jurisdictions where EPA remains the permitting authority, the applicable regional office of EPA issues the NPDES permits. A chart summarizing NPDES delegation authority can be found on EPA's website.

During construction of a wind energy facility, a NPDES General Stormwater Permit for Construction Activities (CGP) is required for any land disturbance equal to or greater than 1 acre (including smaller sites that are part of a larger common plan of development). This includes clearing, grading, and excavation activities. In areas where EPA is the permitting authority, the "operator" must comply with EPA's CGP. The operator is the entity (e.g., an owner, general contractor, or subcontractor) that has operational control over the construction plans or day-to-day activities at the site.

States that administer the NPDES program have developed their own CGPs that incorporate, at a minimum, the requirements of the federal CGP. Federal regulations allow states, territories, and tribes to add certain conditions to the CGP that apply only in that area, even where EPA is the permitting authority and the federal CGP applies. EPA or the permit issuing state can require that a project obtain an individual Stormwater Permit for Construction Activities if the site is particularly large or in sensitive areas if the state determines that the protection offered by the CGP is inadequate.

The CGP application form is called a Notice of Intent (NOI). When EPA is the permitting authority, an applicant is authorized to discharge stormwater from construction activities seven calendar days after acknowledgment of receipt of a complete NOI is posted on EPA's NPDES website. Some states require NOIs to be submitted earlier in the process, especially if there are special circumstances (e.g., the activity is located near surface water that has one or more water quality issues). Developers should confirm the deadlines in the applicable state.

If eligible for coverage under a CGP, prior to submitting an NOI the operator must develop a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) in accordance with the CGP. Among other things, the SWPPP must identify pollutant sources and non-storm water discharges; establish procedures to identify, construct, implement, and maintain Best Management Practices (BMPs); develop a maintenance schedule for post-construction BMPs; and identify a sampling and analysis strategy and schedule for discharges from construction activity into regulated water bodies. SWPPPs can typically incorporate by reference other required plans and procedures required under other laws or regulations such as a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan. Section 5.11 contains additional discussion of SPCC Plans.

During construction, the developer will be required to have a qualified professional regularly inspect the construction site for compliance with the SWPPP. An official inspection log book must be kept at the construction site. Requirements are established in the CGP, and the compliance system is detailed in the SWPPP. Failure to file an NOI or comply with the CGP or SWPPP can lead to enforcement action, including fines, civil and criminal penalties, and incarceration.

• Stormwater Permits for Industrial Activities - In addition to a stormwater permit for construction activities, some wind energy facilities may need an industrial stormwater permit to cover their operations. Although EPA regulations do not currently require an industrial stormwater permit for wind energy generation, many states that implement the NPDES program require all electricity-generating facilities to obtain coverage under an industrial stormwater general or individual permit.

• Other Water Discharges - Although most wind energy facilities will not have a non-stormwater-related discharge of process or other wastewater, if such a discharge is planned, an individual NPDES permit to cover the discharge must be obtained from EPA and/or the applicable state agency. Applications for a new discharge must be filed at least 180 days in advance of the anticipated first discharge. Typically work on such an application should begin at least 3 to 6 months before the application due date (i.e., 9 to 12 months before the first discharge).

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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