Library from Wyoming
Debate over the fate of Wyoming’s bustling migration corridors dominated a packed natural resource committee meeting Wednesday in Casper. State lawmakers and key stakeholders wrestled over how to maintain both a robust energy industry and healthy environment for the state’s iconic migratory game. Ultimately, committee members voted to sponsor a new bill that could overhaul how the state regulates migration corridors and expand the corridor designation process beyond the purview of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
The future of a planned wind project between Albany and Carbon counties is now in question. The result of that could mean the loss of $5 million “impact assistance” funding that governments in Carbon and Albany counties were set to receive from the state.
One wind farm in Glenrock and two from the Saratoga area have partnered with the Casper Regional Landfill to dispose of their old wind turbine blades. More than 900 blades will be brought to the landfill beginning now until the end of next spring.
If you’re looking for examples of small government in Wyoming, towns like Medicine Bow, population 267, undoubtedly set the standard.
The project is located on 49,974 acres of city of Cheyenne, state of Wyoming and private lands in Laramie County. The 17-month construction period is expected to start this month and wrap up by the end of 2020.
The life expectancy of a wind turbine is about 25 years. After that they can either be retooled or taken down. The state of Wyoming was one of the first to implement regulations to make sure the state did not have the problem of dead abandoned wind turbines. California, for example, has entire fields of them.
Committee co-chairman Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, has been a major proponent of an increase in the wind tax. While he was interested in the potential of changes to the state’s wind tax structure, he didn’t think Wyoming needed to worry about its competitiveness with its western neighbors. Considering Wyoming’s placement geographically, Case said developers looking to feed Washington and Oregon with renewable energy wouldn’t be able to stay out of the state, despite a higher cost of development.
...the project stands nowhere near ready to meet the original start-up date of this September. No turbines have been installed, and none will be available for installation for another three years. According to Jacobson, 2022 is being projected as the year when PCW would begin raising wind turbines.
At the Western Conference of Public Service Commissioners annual meeting in Cheyenne last week, Idaho Public Utilities Commission President Paul Kjellander asked why the Energy Vision 2020 project was moving forward when his state has enough electricity for years to come. Idaho is one of the project’s intended recipients. California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Picker questioned the construction of so much wind power in Wyoming — including a planned 3,000-MW project — and said there isn’t a clear transmission path to California.
Rocky Mountain Power responded to inquiries into the dispute by stating, “Rocky Mountain Power cannot comment directly on the ongoing complaint proceedings between the company and Boswell Wind at the Wyoming Public Service Commission. However, Rocky Mountain Power takes both its commitments to provide affordable, reliable electricity to customers, and its contractual commitments seriously.”
As all construction efforts have been suspended, impact assistance funds issued by the Industrial Siting Council to relieve burdens caused by an influx of workers have also stopped. As no workers will be entering either Carbon or Albany counties until the dispute concludes, the payments have been made unnecessary for most communities.
RAWLINS – Dr. Rob Godby, an expert with the University of Wyoming Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy, told attendees at the annual Carbon County Economic Development meeting on Monday that a large wind production tax hike could hinder local production.
Wyoming will pay local communities in the state’s windiest region a little over $5 million to address the impacts from two wind developments now edging forward. ...Over time large projects generate jobs and revenue, but the construction phase comes first. County and town budgets aren’t necessarily able to absorb the impact, said Wichmann.
A representative from BluEarth Renewables presented City Council with plans for two new wind farms in Albany County that could bring business and jobs to Laramie.
Eagle deaths at a wind farm south of Glenrock are estimated to be low, just five golden eagles and one bald eagle over five years, according to a draft environmental assessment recently released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A persistent frustration from those who oppose wind in Wyoming
According to Martin, project officials anticipate a 2020 Commercial Operation Date (COD); however, this date is still uncertain. In addition, a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process will need to be cemented in order for the project to be approved. Although no turbines will fall on BLM grounds, said Martin, transmission line and road right-of-ways are required.
Director of Science Nature Conservancy in Wyoming, Holly Copeland remarked, “Over a half million birds and about a million bats, a study in 2013 by Smallwood, et al showed. And if you run those numbers out for Wyoming there are about 5000 grassland birds we would be losing every year…there was a paper that showed 20 eagles and in addition to that Duke Energy reported 52 eagles as well.”
Copeland will examine the current and expected status of wind projects in the West, as well as the leading science on their impacts to wildlife species including eagles, bats and songbirds.
One of the major reasons why the Commission didn’t make an approval was that, after pressing Carpio-Delfino on if he obtained permits – including an Eagle Take Permit through the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, as well as an agreement with the Bureau of Land Management (the proposed line runs through some BLM land) – he said he’s only been speaking with these entities. This means nothing has yet been finalized.