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County considers wind farm permits

Natrona County's time has come for a commercial wind power farm of its own. Representatives of Chevron Global Power Co. will plead their case tonight to the county's Planning and Zoning Commission to erect 11 wind turbines on the former Texaco property north of the North Platte River near Evansville. "This will be our first wind project, and the first (commercial) one in Natrona County," said Jennifer Silva of Chevron Global Power Co.

Natrona County's time has come for a commercial wind power farm of its own.

Representatives of Chevron Global Power Co. will plead their case tonight to the county's Planning and Zoning Commission to erect 11 wind turbines on the former Texaco property north of the North Platte River near Evansville.

"This will be our first wind project, and the first (commercial) one in Natrona County," said Jennifer Silva of Chevron Global Power Co.

She and other representatives of Chevron, environmental engineering Trihydro Corp., the Natrona County Development Department, and the Natrona County Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday drove on the bumpy and snow-covered two-track roads crossing the property. No refining ever happened on that land.

They wanted the cold, windy and first-hand look at the sites selected for the erection of the General Electric 240-foot-tall, 457,000-pound 1.5-megawatt towers. One megawatt can power about 300 homes.

Chevron, which bought Texaco in 2000, has identified the locations for the towers, the roads leading to the towers, and the location of a substation to feed the electricity to the transmission lines of PacifiCorp, which delivers... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Natrona County's time has come for a commercial wind power farm of its own.

Representatives of Chevron Global Power Co. will plead their case tonight to the county's Planning and Zoning Commission to erect 11 wind turbines on the former Texaco property north of the North Platte River near Evansville.

"This will be our first wind project, and the first (commercial) one in Natrona County," said Jennifer Silva of Chevron Global Power Co.

She and other representatives of Chevron, environmental engineering Trihydro Corp., the Natrona County Development Department, and the Natrona County Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday drove on the bumpy and snow-covered two-track roads crossing the property. No refining ever happened on that land.

They wanted the cold, windy and first-hand look at the sites selected for the erection of the General Electric 240-foot-tall, 457,000-pound 1.5-megawatt towers. One megawatt can power about 300 homes.

Chevron, which bought Texaco in 2000, has identified the locations for the towers, the roads leading to the towers, and the location of a substation to feed the electricity to the transmission lines of PacifiCorp, which delivers power in Wyoming and Idaho under the name Rocky Mountain Power.

Three related wind farm permit applications are before the commission, which meets at 5:30 p.m. today at the County Annex at 12. W. First St. If the Planning and Zoning Commission approves the applications, they will advance to a second public hearing conducted by the Natrona County Commission probably on Feb. 3.

The three agenda items are:

-- A request for a zoning variance to allow excavation to 34 feet to accommodate the concrete foundations necessary to anchor the towers. Zoning prohibits digging deeper than six feet. The foundations require hundreds of cubic yards of concrete and millions of pounds of rebar to anchor the towers.

-- A request for a conditional use permit to allow the construction of a temporary concrete batch plant on the site. Chevron Global will leave the decision to its as-yet-selected general contractor about whether to build an on-site plant or haul concrete from a Casper area plant, said Bill Reese, the company's director of commercial development.

-- A request for a conditional use permit for the construction of the 11-tower wind farm. Chevron does not plan any more turbines on the site besides these 11, Silva said.

"The batch plant and excavation are secondary," Commission Chairwoman Roxy Skogen said.

Neither she nor other Planning and Zoning commissioners have heard any objections to the proposed wind farm, but people will have the opportunity to speak at tonight's meeting, Skogen said.

The commission will not second-guess where Chevron wants to place the towers, she added.

Last fall, the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners had anticipated the arrival of commercial wind farms. They approved rules to identify haul routes; obtain weight and size permits for roads and monitor road impacts; provide identification for airplane pilots; install cattle fencing around tower bases, warning signs, and anti-climbing devices; identify appropriate setbacks from roads and other properties; comply with federal aviation and military regulations; identify wildlife impacts; and require insurance.

Besides these public impacts, Silva said Chevron Global has held meetings with neighbors along the roads near and leading to the Chevron property west of Cole Creek Road.

Some neighbors have expressed their support for the project, and others have expressed concern about the dust and impact on the road by the heavy equipment used to haul the tower and turbine parts, Silva said.

Cole Creek Road is able to handle the heavy equipment, but the unpaved roads to and in the site will need upgrading, Reese said.

General Electric, the turbine manufacturer, is responsible for ensuring the roads can handle the loads, Reese said.

Trihydro has been working with Chevron in anticipation of the project by looking at environmental and other impacts on the land, said one of its consultants, Kurt Tuggle.

"We try to minimize the impact," Tuggle said.


Source: http://www.trib.com/article...

JAN 12 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/18566-county-considers-wind-farm-permits
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