Library from Wyoming
Driving Interstate 80 home to Lander from Cheyenne recently, I crested the commanding rise in Carbon County looking west toward Walcott Junction, just a few miles after beginning the descent from the Elk Mountain plateau. From this wonderful spot, you can see more than 25 miles toward Sinclair and Rawlins and gaze south up the Saratoga valley and north toward the Shirley Basin.
Power Company of Wyoming could get two permits as soon as January if Fish and Wildlife gives final approval to the plan. One permit would allow removal of unoccupied eagle nests during construction of the first 500 of potentially up to 1,000 turbines. A five-year permit would allow up to 14 golden eagle deaths a year during operation.
County Planning Director Sid Fox said a zoning permit is usually required to start construction on a wind farm, but said due to the fact the two were simply requesting to dig holes to beat the colder weather and to meet the requirement for the production tax credit, they did not need the permit.
The Ponnequin Wind Farm stands inactive off U.S. Highway 85 Friday afternoon near the Wyoming/Colorado state line south of Cheyenne. Xcel Energy is trying to determine what to do with the wind farm, as it has been inactive for nearly a year.
Lawmakers spurned a bill to increase taxes on wind energy Thursday, after hearing five hours of testimony from the industry’s developers, utilities, local government officials and ranchers opposed to the proposal.
“The benefits of wind are disproportionately on the West Coast, and the costs of wind are disproportionately in Wyoming — and I mean the social costs,” said Cale Case, a state senator and economist who serves on the Legislature’s revenue committee. “This tiny reflection of the impacts back here, I think it’s just kind of a fair trade.”
But company officials say their plans could be derailed by state lawmakers’ proposal to raise Wyoming’s wind production tax. Legislators say raising the tax could help stem a $600 million revenue shortfall, but Power Company of Wyoming representatives warn higher taxes could make the $5 billion project economically unfeasible.
The 108 wind turbines would be between 5.45 nautical miles and 13.6 nautical miles north of the airport’s navigation reference point. ...if the “reported altimeter setting is different than the actual air pressure 5 or 10 miles from the airport” an avoidable accident could occur because the wind turbine would be only 56 feet below the navigation intersection.
Improperly sited wind-power projects would destroy Wyoming’s wide-open spaces, magnificent viewsheds, and incomparable wildlife. In letters to the Star-Tribune, several individuals have outlined the destruction Chokecherry and Sierra Madre would wreak if approved and constructed. I agree. Another equally dangerous project is the so-called Pioneer Park Wind Power Project.
The company behind the largest proposed wind farm in the country, in Carbon County, says that uncertainty around Wyoming's wind tax policy is making it more difficult to invest in wind.
Wyoming lawmakers are calling such statements a bluff. The Cowboy State’s bountiful breeze means developers will continue to flock to its vast expanses of wind-blown prairie, regardless of the tax, they say. What’s more, they argue, Congress extended the $23-per-megawatt-hour tax credit for wind producers last year. They contend Power Company of Wyoming can spare some of those proceeds.
Some legislators were unmoved by the pleas made by Miller and other wind proponents to the committee. “If it kills a project, it kills a project,” Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, said. “If wind doesn’t provide some form of significant benefit to the state of Wyoming, I don’t care if it’s here.”
The Bureau of Land Management is advancing a major multistate transmission line project that the Obama administration considers a top priority in its ongoing efforts to develop wind and solar power in the West.
A group of lawmakers, accusing wind farms of “seeking to shut down” the coal industry, drummed up proposals Wednesday to increase taxes on the renewable energy source to raise money for education. ...Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, disagreed, arguing that wind turbines destroyed viewsheds for up to 200 years, a much longer time than mines and drilling rigs. “With wind, that viewshed is lost forever,” he said. “It is severed.”
Representative Michael Madden is co-chair of the Revenue Committee. He says wind should pay a similar tax rate as coal and gas, even though it is a renewable resource. “I can’t see any fundamental reason to treat one different from another," he said.
The proposed site is located near an existing wind farm operated by TransAlta, said Krista Mann, Invenergy senior business development manager. Between 50 and 70 turbines would be built on a site largely made up of private land. The topography is suitable for development and transmission is available, she said.
Wind power generation had its smallest increase in 16 years due to less intense wind speeds in Utah and eight other Western states in the country. Even though wind generation capacity jumped by 13 percent in 2015, the actual output grew 5.1 percent.
Chokecherry and Sierra Madre, the largest onshore wind farm planned in the United States, would annually kill 10 to 14 golden eagles, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service projected in a draft environmental study released Wednesday. ...Federal officials attributed the decline to several factors. The permit application submitted by the project’s developer, Power Company of Wyoming, only considers the 500 turbines proposed in the project’s first phase. A second phase calls for an additional 500 turbines.
But the project still faces a series of hurdles before reaching completion, including questions over potential eagle deaths and a lawsuit from opponents seeking to block the new turbines.
A federal appeals court is rejecting an effort by a Salt Lake City man to overturn his conviction for bilking investors in a fraudulent wind farm business, just days after rejecting a similar appeal from the man's sister. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Monday rejected the latest appeal from Robert Arthur Reed of Salt Lake City.