Albany County could gain a new source of energy within the next few years if permits are granted for a proposed wind farm and transmission line project.
At Tuesday’s Albany County Commission meeting, Paul Martin, president of Boulder, Colorado-based Intermountain Wind, LLC, discussed his plans to create a wind farm and transmission line. Work on the project, which would be located at Boswell Springs Ranch in northern Albany County, began in 2007, he said.
The project area encompasses about 21,000 acres, and the company is proposing to install around 160 turbines with 2.0-megawatt capacities. The farm would include a maintenance building, four substations, more than 40 miles of access roads and both underground and above-ground collection systems, Martin said.
Environmental affect on the site would be minimal, he said.
“Ultimately, we don’t see a whole lot of pronghorn out there at all,” he said. “We haven’t seen any other big game out there other than that.”
The quality of wind in the region is very good, Martin said, and he hopes to steer a lot of development to Albany County because of its “stranded resource.”
“While it is blowing like crazy, it’s consistent at that level,” Martin said. “And then we also have very low turbulence intensity, which is something that really affects the loads on the turbine, the life of it, and that sort of thing. It’s very good wind.”
Ideally, permit applications would be submitted in December, with the permits received in March. The company hopes to begin construction on early roads and foundations at the end of 2016, with construction in earnest starting in 2017.
The project’s accompanying transmission line originates at the wind project, and Martin said he’s working with property owners to ensure they’re “willing participant(s)” in permitting the line to run through their land.
“We are going about the process of looking at landowners as partners in our line,” he said. “So there’s no eminent domain or anything in our process at this point — we’re just trying to figure out which landowners want to work with us, and we’re offering a fairly sizable compensation package to incentivize them to do that.”
The line would deliberately avoid sage grouse and golden eagle critical habitat areas and follow existing infrastructure, such as railroads. At the moment, Intermountain Wind, LLC, is looking into a route consisting of 26.5 miles over private land, 7.3 miles over Bureau of Land Management property and 3.7 miles over state land.
“Ultimately, we’re pinning down our route,” Martin said. “It’s not completely decided yet.”
Commissioner Tim Chesnut expressed support for the proposed project and said he would work with Martin to move it forward.
“I want to get wind energy in here,” he said.