Session A8.1

Tallahassee International Airport Solar Farm II

Mariben Anderson, FAA Qualified Airport Biologist

8:00 – 8:30 AM ET

About the Presentation

The City of Tallahassee Solar Farm II (Tallahassee Solar2) involved the planning, design, permitting and construction of a 330-acre, 42 MWac solar farm at Tallahassee International Airport (TLH), Florida. This is the second phase of the Citys and TLHs sustainability and clean energy project. Tallahassee Solar2 became operational in January 2020, joining Tallahassee Solar1, a 120-acre 20 MWac solar farm that came online in 2018. Combined, the two solar farms span 450 acres and produce 62 megawatts (MWac) per year, making TLH as the "largest on-airport solar farm in the world", ahead of Indias Cochin International Airport (40 MWac) and Indianapolis International Airport (17.5 MWac). The site limits typical development and the height of the infrastructure due to its proximity to the runway. Instead of leaving the site undeveloped, the solar farm provides revenue to TLH and the City, renewable energy to the community, and contributes to meeting TLHs and the Citys sustainability goals.

The site's rough terrain included small valleys, hills, wetlands, and two potential sinkholes and is used by state-listed species and migratory birds. The project team had to avoid/minimize impacts to protected species, including the bent golden-aster, Southeastern American kestrels, and gopher tortoises. The project design avoided wetland impact and karst features and mitigated impact to protected species through relocation. The project's size required the design of an electric substation on the property. NEPA document preparation and permitting were conducted concurrently to meet the project's aggressive schedule. Agency coordination was initiated at the beginning of the project and agency comments were requested immediately after environmental impacts were determined. This was done ahead of the 30-day agency review to streamline the process. The FAA expedited review of the environmental assessment to issue the Finding of No Significant Impact ahead of construction. When scheduling complications arose, team members worked together to convert sequential elements into concurrent tasks to streamline the schedule and save project costs. Tasks included more than a dozen processes and permitting requirements, including the FAA environmental assessment; Solar Glare Analysis; Airport Layout Plan Update; design; Airport Airspace Analysis and Obstruction Evaluation; Tallahassee Natural Features Inventory, Environmental Impact Analysis, and Environmental Management Plan; and State permitting were done concurrently to streamline the process, save time and money, and meet the projects strict schedule. Each task involved sub-consultants and coordination with various agencies and stakeholders.

There were several consultants, contractors, and entities working on various project phases. It was critical for project elements to be cohesive, so several meetings were scheduled to make team members aware of the importance of meeting deadlines. The project was completed on schedule and on budget.

About the Speaker

Mariben Anderson, FAA Qualified Airport Biologis
Environmental Manager
Michael Baker Int'l Inc.

Mariben has a B.S. Biology from the University of the Philippines. She has been working as an Environmental Scientist for 38+ years and has been at Michael Baker International, Inc. for 17 years. She has certifications from FHWA for Transportation Decision Making and from FAA for Airport NEPA. She is an FAA Qualified Airport Wildlife Biologist and has been working at airports for 22 years. She specializes in NEPA, environmental permitting and environmental compliance. She has designed award-winning wetland and upland restoration projects and developed interactive training and/or public outreach programs for environmental education, NPDES compliance, and biological monitoring. She is passionate about protecting the environment as her legacy for future generations.


Session A8.2

What Should the Phase 2 Revisions to the CEQ NEPA Regulations Address?
An Open Discussion

Charles Nicholson

9:00 – 9:30 AM ET 

About the Presentation

In 2021 the Council on Environmental Quality initiated a two-phase review and revision of the 2020 regulations for implementing NEPA. The final rule on the limited scope Phase 1 revisions takes effect May 20. Work on the Phase 2 revisions is underway and the proposed rule is scheduled to be issued this summer. According to CEQ, the Phase 2 revisions will be more extensive than the Phase 1 revisions. What do you think CEQ should address in the Phase 2 revisions? Attend this session to give your opinion on this and hear the opinions of other conference attendees.

About the Speaker

Charles Nicholson
Senior Environmental Scientist

Dr. Nicholson is an elected NAEP board member and chair of the NEPA Practice. He is presently employed as a part-time Senior Environmental Scientist at HDR primarily serving as a NEPA advisor, document reviewer, and co-chair of the HDR Impact Assessment Group. In early 2017, he retired from the Tennessee Valley Authority where he most recently served as Senior NEPA Compliance Specialist. His previous positions at TVA included zoologist, wildlife biologist, and Endangered Species Act compliance specialist. He has managed the production of numerous environmental assessments and environmental impact statements for a wide range of actions. He is chair of his town's urban forestry commission and Sheltowee Trace Association board member. He has a B.S. degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from the University of Tennessee, a M.S. degree in Wildlife Management from the University of Maine, and a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Tennessee.

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