Library from Wyoming
Proposed rules for commercial wind-energy production on state trust lands have met with a minimum of concern in a series of hearings across the state. The Office of State Lands and Investments held a hearing in Cheyenne on Thursday on draft rules that will eventually be presented to the Board of Land Commissioners.
Why the rush for wind energy farms? Many will say yes the wind is free, so go for it. True the wind is free, but when the wind does not blow no electrical power is made. When this happens somewhere on the electrical grid coal-fired boilers will pick up the load. If we over-balance the electrical load on the grid with too much or too many wind turbines we may not be able to balance the electrical grid system.
Developers of a proposed power transmission line linking southeast Wyoming wind fields and the Colorado Front Range say they believe in the project and are forging slowly ahead, despite a Colorado utility's rejection of Wyoming wind. New Jersey-based LS Power and the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority are partnering to develop the 180-mile line between substations at Wheatland and Brush, Colo. It's one of six major transmission lines proposed by developers hoping to tap Wyoming's potential wind power resources.
Wildlife conservationists and energy developers alike found some encouragement in Friday's announcement that the sage grouse won't be listed as a threatened or endangered species. Many agreed that such a listing would have had a chilling effect on the agriculture and minerals industries, which are the foundation of Wyoming's economy.
The finding shows the government is willing to protect sage grouse but not willing to do what's necessary, said Jon Marvel, executive director of the Hailey, Idaho-based Western Watersheds Project. "None of the actions proposed to date are mandatory, and that undermines the commitment for improving conditions for sage grouse," Marvel said.
Wyoming will have more authority over the siting and development of wind farms and the state will begin taxing wind energy production under bills that Gov. Dave Freudenthal signed into law on Friday. The $1 per megawatt hour tax on wind energy generated in the state goes into effect in 2012. The wind industry fought the tax bill unsuccessfully this session.
The iconic sage grouse that once roamed the western U.S. plains in great numbers ...will not be listed under the Endangered Species Act, but the department will put special emphasis on preserving the chicken-sized bird on lands where oil companies want to drill and wind companies want to erect their massive turbines.
The Interior Department said Friday that the greater sage grouse, a dweller of the high plains of the American West, was facing extinction but would not be designated an endangered species for now. Yet the decision in essence reverses a 2004 determination by the Bush administration that the sage grouse did not need protection, a decision that a federal court later ruled was tainted by political tampering with the Interior Department's scientific conclusions.
At a meeting Tuesday, Sweetwater County Commissioner Randy Walker may very well have echoed the feelings many local residents have about Teton Winds, LLC, proposed wind farm on White Mountain. "I don't think most people are against wind farms in general," Walker said. " It's just where this one is proposed. It's location, location, location."
Dr. Jason A. Lillegraven aimed to have a day in court to protest PacifiCorp's Dunlap Ranch wind energy project. He's not going to get it. Wade Waldrip, Carbon County District Court judge, ruled to dismiss Lillegraven's petition for judicial review in a decision letter filed Monday in District Court.
Commercial wind farms can extend over thousands of acres, often on federal land, and require some new skills for permitting, So the Renewable Energy Coordination Office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management was created ...to smooth the permitting process for wind, solar and other renewable energy sources.
A Utah company has submitted a permit application to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to build a commercial wind farm on federal land in western Natrona County, the agency's Casper field manager said. "This is the first one we're permitting," Joe Meyer told the Natrona County commissioners at a work session last week.
The Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments has drawn up rules for wind development leasing on state land, partly to help reduce potential conflicts between wind development and other uses such as mining, drilling and ranching. The office is charged with managing about 3.6 million acres of state trust land for beneficiaries including public schools. The office is taking written comment on its proposed rules until Monday and plans public hearings in mid-March in Casper, Green River, Rawlins and Cheyenne.
Gov. Dave Freudenthal, who made the wind tax a priority of his legislative agenda, intends to sign the bill, a spokesman said. Lawmakers amended the tax as it passed through the House, and both chambers passed the proposal with at least two-thirds support. The bill would impose a $1-per-megawatt-hour excise tax on wind energy production and split the revenues 60-40 between counties and the state.
The developer of a proposed wind farm on White Mountain has scaled back the probable number of wind turbines in favor of a larger turbine size for the project. If fully built, as few as 185 wind turbines could be constructed on scenic White Mountain instead of the 237 under study by federal administrators, company officials said Wednesday night during a public meeting.
Judy Mattinson expressed horror at the idea of spoiling the "sweet, peaceful viewshed" of the escarpment with wind turbines. "I can't see how you can move forward without impacting the beauty" of the area, she said. "The damage will irrevocable and unavoidable. "Anybody who has not visited the mountain in the spring and seen the wildflowers ... can't know how beautiful it is," she continued. "And it won't be that way again."
With currents of powerful wind gusts whipping across its plains and plateaus, Wyoming has become a new frontier for the wind industry - the latest energy development for a state that only recently experienced a natural gas boom.
A lot of Westerners are watching whether the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is about to pursue Endangered Species Act protection for the greater sage grouse. A finding is expected by week's end and the oil and gas, livestock and wind energy industries _ to name the bigger interests concerned _ all have an enormous stake in whatever the agency decides.
With the 2010 legislative budget session half over, all four of Gov. Dave Freudenthal's wind energy proposals are still alive -- albeit, in some cases, significantly altered. But the outcome of the bills is still far from certain as they move through the Legislature. The most controversial proposal, House Bill 101, would impose an excise tax on wind energy produced in the state. If passed, it would be the first such tax in the nation.
A proposed excise tax on wind energy in Wyoming was improved by the House Revenue Committee, which trimmed it by two-thirds and delayed the tax's implementation by a year. Both moves should help allay critics' fears that such a tax will make the fledgling industry choose other states to build wind turbine projects.