Articles from Wyoming
CHEYENNE - Wyoming could be at a crossroads when it comes to a potential boom of wind energy projects in the state.
The long-term need for greener electricity and our timeless winds are why our great-grandchildren may never experience many of our beautiful Wyoming vistas as the indigenous peoples and pioneers did and the way we do now. More likely, they will see an industrialized landscape — one scarred by thousands of bird-smashing turbines, high-tension lines and innumerable utility roads. Where we see the joyous freedom of open space, they will have to peer through a fragmented, tattooed landscape.
SALT LAKE CITY — Rocky Mountain Power unveiled a 20-year plan today to provide electricity to its customers that includes adding more solar and wind and making existing wind turbines more efficient. The $3.5 billion plan also incorporates building a segment of the Gateway West transmission line to facilitate the wind expansion.
Oklahoma wind developers are fresh off a record-setting year. Only Texas installed more wind capacity in 2016, a fact that thrusts the Sooner State's power markets into a sudden transition and is agitating opponents along the way.
“The routes unnecessarily destroy wilderness-quality lands in Northwest Colorado and eastern Nevada, as well as greater sage grouse habitat. Readily available alternative routes could have minimized or eliminated these impacts by following highways and designated utility corridors.”
Amazon’s latest wind farm in coastal North Carolina has completed construction and is weeks from beginning operations—and state legislators have just asked the incoming Trump administration to shut it down.
Under the bill, if electricity were generated by wind or solar in Wyoming to serve customers in the state it would come with a $10-per-megawatt-hour penalty. That penalty would be double the suggested tax hike on wind also under consideration this legislative session.
In a statement, Alex Daue, assistant director for energy and climate for the Wilderness Society, said the two newly approved routes “unnecessarily destroy wilderness-quality lands in northwest Colorado and eastern Nevada, as well as greater sage-grouse habitat. Readily available alternative routes could have minimized or eliminated these impacts by following highways and designated utility corridors.”
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.”