Library from Wyoming
A newly proposed wind power project in southern Wyoming would be one of the biggest in the world, and would more than triple the current number of utility-sized wind turbines in the Cowboy State. The proposal involves two adjacent wind farms in Carbon County that would be erected -- with a total of 1,000 turbines producing 2,000 megawatts of electricity, said Bruce Collins, spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management's Rawlins office. The two farms, taken together, would be one of the largest wind power projects on the planet, surpassing the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center in Taylor County, Texas, which has 421 turbines and a production capacity of 735 megawatts, according to Florida Power and Light, the owner of the Texas wind farm.
A Texas-based wind energy company is making plans for the construction of a new wind farm in eastern Carbon County. Project manager Nate Sandvig of Horizon Wind Energy presented plans for the project this week to the Carbon County Commission and the Carbon County Planning Commission. ...The new wind farm would be located in the Simpson Ridge area south of Medicine Bow, near PacifiCorp's Arlington wind farm. Energy produced at the site would be shipped to California and other parts of the Pacific Coast, Sandvig said.
Electrical power producers are in line to build 850 megawatts of new electrical generation in Wyoming -- and most of it will be wind energy, according to the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority. ...Steve Waddington, executive director of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, said 12 different "bidders" successfully passed a financial credit check and are qualified to compete for transmission capacity on the proposed power line. "It's not exclusively wind developers that are qualified to bid, but it is predominantly so," Waddington said. "The project looks pretty promising."
In southeast Wyoming, they've pledged 1 million acres of land in hopes that wind farm developers will choose them, says Scott Zimmerman, a farmer and rancher in Laramie County. But Susie Lemaster, who is not an owner of vast acreage, built a house with her husband in the country four years ago near Horse Creek Road. She doesn't want to see the neighboring land filled with 500- foot towers topped with rotating blades, making electricity.
The proposed wind farm was also a major topic discussed by the Sweetwater County Commissioners Tuesday morning. During a presentation from the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council, Tom Schroeder, program principal for the ISC, said the White Mountain wind farm was one of the projects the council expected to see a permit application from. Schroeder said the wind farm would be built in phases and said a wind farm the size of the proposed project would be 12,000-15,000 acres. The project was originally permitted to be built on land owned by the Rock Springs Grazing Association. However, with the proposed 200 additional wind generators, land owned by the Bureau of Land Management will also need to be utilized.
BP Alternative Energy will begin to seek permits from the state later this month into early June for a wind turbine facility it hopes to have in operation in the southern part of Wyoming County by the end of 2009. ...Despite the public outreach on Thursday by BP, some people who attended the open house remained skeptical about the project, such as Carl Crispell, who owns 178 acres on South Mountain. He said that he has a hunting cabin on the mountain and is working with BP to lease his land for turbines. Asked why he will be leasing his land despite his skepticism, Crispell said he feels he doesn't have much of a choice because the turbines "will be all around us anyway."
Local government officials are concerned about the cumulative effects of two major Rocky Mountain Power projects in Converse County, and they hope impact fees will help alleviate law enforcement, housing and other concerns. Rocky Mountain Power recently obtained an industrial siting permit for two 66-turbine, 99-megawatt wind farms in the Rolling Hills area near Glenrock, with the potential to add another 26. Now, the company is proposing major maintenance and pollution control upgrades to the coal-fired Dave Johnston Power Plant on the outskirts of Glenrock. State Industrial Siting Council permits are required for projects with construction costs of $170.3 million or more. The process is designed to help communities deal with the impacts of major new projects. ...Parfitt said an industrial siting permit for the Dave Johnston work would consider the cumulative impacts of Rocky Mountain Power's Rolling Hills and Glenrock wind farms. In particular, the council would weigh overlaps of work forces and potential housing issues.
Developers will take bids from power generators, distributors and others for space on a proposed power line to transmit electricity from eastern Wyoming to the Colorado Front Range. Developers of the "Wyoming-Colorado Intertie" project will hold an open-season auction in June, hoping to collect commitments for up to 900 megawatts of transmission. Wyoming wind-generated power is expected to make up a significant portion of the power committed to the line, according to officials. If the June auction is successful, the line could be built and put into operation by mid-2013.
With massive coal reserves, humming gas production, steady oil activity and burgeoning prospects for uranium, Gillette and Campbell County are used to being on top of the region's energy heap. Not so for wind. "Campbell County, for the first time, is not going to be a leader on this one," said Ed Werner, a consultant who has worked with the Wyoming Business Council to promote wind energy across the state. But while Werner and many others believe Campbell County may be years away from being a major player in the wind energy field, the area has not been bereft of developments in recent months ...Jo Ann Shober rejected Third Planet's attempt to lease a 640-acre section she owns near the buttes. Chief among her concerns were losing control of her land and what she saw as an under-valued contract. She also thinks that wind energy, which the Shobers believe once powered a kitchen outlet in their red and white ranch home east of Savageton, is a technology of the past and an unreliable one at that. Nuclear and coal plants sit better with her. "I just think wind energy is in the past.
Some components on Vestas Wind Systems-manufactured wind turbines at Platte River Power Authority's Medicine Bow Wind Project are failing more than 15 years earlier than expected, according to PRPA. Since the Medicine Bow, which is in southern Wyoming, went online in 1998, 30 major outages have occurred on the wind farm's nine turbines due to component failure, said John Bleem, PRPA division manager. Although outages vary, Bleem said repairs have led to turbines being down for as long as three months and costing as much as $100,000 - paid for by Vestas under its manufacturer warranty set to expire in 2011.
Wyoming's largest electrical utility last week received a state Industrial Siting Council permit for a planned wind farm in Carbon County, but not before the council heard some serious concerns about the impacts of the construction project. Approval of the Seven Mile Hill wind project, located between Medicine Bow and Hanna, included a late filing by PacifiCorp Energy to expand the project from 66 turbines to 79. Although no one was opposed to the project during last week's council hearing, several local officials expressed concern about the adequacy of PacifiCorp's plans for housing workers, provision of emergency services during construction, and disposal of trash generated by the project. Also of concern were road access to the project and drive times to the site.
So the department and County Attorney Eric Nelson proposed amending the zoning rules to allow Boname and the Theriaults to proceed, and then place a moratorium on other wind power applications until the county made comprehensive changes to regarding wind power. Campbell and commissioner Barb Peryam didn't like the idea of a moratorium, even though they and the other commissioners praised the advent of residential wind power. With Campbell dissenting, the commissioners voted to change the wording in the regulations after the applicants and others spoke during a public hearing. ...However, some neighbors complained to the county that the 4-inch-diameter tower with 20 guy wires interfered with their views and posed a hazard to wildlife.
Kirkbride has five concerns for his county. Those include continuity, so developers can know what rules apply across county lines. He wants to make sure wind farms go up in the right places, not just the least-regulated areas. Second, he's concerned about how opposition to wind farm proposals will be handled. Roads are another area of concern. Like many small counties operating on limited budgets, Platte County is faced with more than 700 miles of roads to maintain. Wind development brings heavy traffic that damages those routes, yet financial benefits from the resource is typically several years out, Kirkbride said. ...He advised developing a screening process for wind projects and funding research to fill data gaps when effects are unknown. "Let's think this out," Lathrop urged. "Let's do it smart, let's do it right."
The high winds that are part of life in southeast Wyoming make it a prime target for the development of systems to turn the gusts into a usable source of electricity. To prepare for the expected influx of towers and turbines that may dot the landscape, Laramie County is creating rules to monitor the future installation, operation and potential abandonment of wind energy systems. County officials say the proposed regulations are designed to ensure the orderly development of the systems. They also seek to protect public infrastructure and the quality of life for residents while encouraging the growth of this alternative energy source for personal and commercial uses. "We do want to make sure they're safe (wind energy systems), and we do want to make sure you don't cause trouble for your neighbors. But that's it," county planning director Gary Kranse said.
An emerging expert in wind development is Cheyenne attorney Frank Falen of Budd-Falen Law Office. He has been working with four cooperatives and many individuals with wind resources, and he's the first to admit that wind is new. The same old rules don't always apply. "Because it's new, we don't know if we've thought of all of it," he said. "We can learn a lot by watching what has gone on in the last 100 years with the mineral industry. With this wind resource, it's not like selling your yearly ag commodity. There's no place to go to know what your resource is worth. The best way we've come up with to do that is to talk to as many wind developers as you can." ..."It's real easy to get caught up just in the financial terms," Falen said, urging property owners to consider the lease terms as a whole, not just as a dollar value. ...In particular, landowners should realize that wind developers have limited financial risk. Often, companies are spending money put up by a number of individuals who've limited the amounts invested. A landowner, on the other hand, is pouring his best asset -- the property -- into one investment.
Sales tax exemptions designed to encourage alternative energy development in Wyoming may be hurting local communities' ability to cope with the impacts. But the tax incentives are also bringing such projects to Wyoming, and communities should consider the long-term benefits, including good jobs and new opportunities, a state lawmaker says. The tax exemption "sunset" date was extended from 2008 to June 2012 during last year's legislative session. Companies building alternative energy projects, such as wind farms, enjoy an exemption from paying sales taxes on materials during construction. ...Despite the potential long-term benefits, proposals such as the Glenrock-area wind farms have up-front costs communities have to shoulder, including bringing roads up to par and increasing some social service and law enforcement programs. Usually, increases in sales taxes boost local governments' coffers as projects take hold.
A PacifiCorp proposal to build a 66-turbine, 99-megawatt wind farm has doubled in size since the plans were announced about five months ago. Now, PacifiCorp is proposing two projects of 66 turbines each, with the potential for a third project, all located on property the company owns about 12 miles north of Glenrock at the former Dave Johnston coal mine. "We are looking at the opportunity to site a third wind project on the same property in the future," said Jeff Hymas, PacifiCorp spokesman. "We plan to have the Glenrock and Rolling Hills projects up and running by the end of 2008. A third project would be down the road." ...Advances in new transmission capability and a similar wind farm, the Seven-Mile Hill project near Medicine Bow, should help the company realize that goal. Plus, Rocky Mountain Power plans to invest $4 billion over the next 10 years in transmission projects throughout its system.
More than two decades have passed since the Bureau of Land Managment last updated its master plan to address how to work with approximately 1.4-million acres of BLM-administered public land surface and 4.7-million acres of federal mineral estate at overseen by the Casper office. The office now has a new plan to guide it through the next several years. ...Completely new is policy guidance on wind energy development, he said something that wasn’t even mentioned in the 1985 document. “We also have a much greater emphasis on protections for sage grouse,” said Meyer n a statement that conservationists dispute.
Kevin Luke of Buford-based Z-4 Energy Systems wants to develop a way to save wind energy for when the wind's not blowing. He's working on a commercialization plan for wind-powered water pumping, incorporating compressed air storage. Luke points out that wind is variable and energy storage is needed to provide controlled, consistent water pumping. He seeks to use air compressors, similar to those found commercially, powered by a wind turbine rotor. The driving force behind his efforts is that the wind blows at variable speeds and when there is not enough wind to turn the turbine, the stored air can continue to be used to pump the well. Currently, wind electric and solar powered systems use lead acid batteries for storage, which don't perform well in the cold weather and have a short lifespan.
The idea of alternative energy has been a hot topic recently, especially with the skyrocketing price of gasoline and other fossil fuels. ...He conceded that technology is advancing to make fossil fuels burn cleaner, and nuclear energy could also play a more prominent role in the coming years. Tassainer said, "One thing you need to keep in mind is that if all of the wind in the United States was developed for (electricity) generation, it would only satisfy 20 percent of the demand." He said the development of wind power is a supplement to the nation's energy needs, not a way to eliminate any other particular source.