Library from Wyoming
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.
Industry leaders believe wind could fill up to 20 percent of generation portfolio. But even wind proponents warn against the notion that it can solve the nation's energy and greenhouse gas concerns. "Wind is a great technology ... But it's not a panacea." There's fossil fuel consumption in the maintenance of wind farms. Many prime wind resources are located far from areas where renewable energy is in demand. Even here at the Foote Creek wind facility, where high gusts wreak havoc on turbines, lightning strikes are equally troublesome. "You've got to look at it for what it is," said Borrows.
A Utah-based engineering company hopes to tap into some of that endless, yet unrealized wind energy resource on top of White Mountain west of Rock Springs, according to county officials. Tasco Engineering Inc. is seeking a conditional use permit for a 36-turbine operation on private lands between Rock Springs and Green River in Sweetwater County. The proposed site lies near the scenic landmark called Pilot Butte and near the recently completed Wild Horse Loop Tour along the rim of White Mountain.
DOUGLAS -- The monetary impact on Converse County of a proposed wind project in Glenrock may be realized as soon as construction starts through impact assistance payments from the state Department of Environmental Quality's industrial siting division. From that division, Tom Schroeder prepared the county commissioners Tuesday for what he said could be a "fast and furious" process as Rocky Mountain Power files its application for an industrial siting permit this fall. In conjunction with the permit, the state Industrial Siting Council will decide what sort of money it should approve for the county as impact assistance fees. State permits are required for all projects with construction costs of $163 million or more. The council evaluates the socio-economic and environmental impacts of the construction work on communities before issuing construction permits. The assistance fees are intended to help communities address impacts.
Pacific Power and Rocky Mountain Power, both part of PacifiCorp, are planning to build a new wind energy facility in Wyoming. The Seven Mile Hill Wind Energy Development Project, located near Rawlins, will consist of 66 wind turbines with a generating capacity of 99 megawatts. It's the second wind project announced by PacifiCorp within the month. Earlier this month, the company announced plans to build a 99-megawatt wind facility at the site of a reclaimed surface coal mine near Glenrock, WY. The Seven Mile Hill project is scheduled to be completed in October 2008, the companies said Tuesday. PacifiCorp is a unit of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., which is controlled by Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
Other proposed changes include special provisions regarding wind turbines and junk and trash piles.
GLENROCK - Rocky Mountain Power officials hope to gauge the public's response to a proposed 66-turbine wind farm the company is proposing at the old Dave Johnston coal mine about 12 miles north of town. The company holds an open house meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. today at Glenrock Middle School to explain the project, answer questions and take comments.
For the second time in less than a month, Rocky Mountain Power has announced a new wind farm in Wyoming. The Seven Mile Hill wind energy project in eastern Carbon County will consist of 66 wind turbines with a total generating capacity of 99 megawatts of electricity. Rocky Mountain Power will hold a public open house at 7 p.m. today at The Depot in Rawlins to discuss the project. "This facility is part of a comprehensive strategy to achieve a more balanced mix of resources used to generate electricity," Rocky Mountain Power President Richard Walje said in prepared statement.
Rocky Mountain Power on Monday announced plans to build a 66-turbine wind farm at the reclaimed Dave Johnston coal mine in Converse County.