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In deliberations before their decision, commissioners expressed concern about how the wind turbines would affect nearby landowners, which mirrored complaints from the alliance and others. Some commissioners also were deeply concerned about the financial stability of California-based Edison Mission Energy.
"The radar system to keep the turbine lights off at night is very important to us because it will resolve the largest concern we've heard among the residents and local governments of Converse and Natrona counties — keeping the night skies dark."
A permit from the council is required for any wind energy project with 30 or more towers. The Wasatch wind farms, dubbed Pioneer I and II, will generate 100 megawatts of electricity apiece and cost between $180 million to $200 million, according to the company.
The commissioners emphasized that they would accept public comment up to when they make the decision. That decision date is not yet set but will be within 45 days of Monday's hearing. "We're not going to make a decision tonight," he said. "I think we have too much to digest."
As many local residents know, the winds of Wyoming are one of this land's most distinguishing features. ...But lately, this ever-present element has been bringing more than just tumble weeds to Converse County; a huge debate is now brewing over the question: are wind turbines really necessary?
There were fears that many landowners would not receive fair treatment and compensation in acquiring their land for the so-called connector lines because of the power of eminent domain hanging over their heads. With hundreds of turbines making up individual wind farms, the potential number of collector lines can be numerous and involve multiple landowners.
The town's three assessors voted unanimously to deny a permit to Highland Wind LLC, which wanted to string transmission wires over the southern portion of Rowe Pond Road. The wires are an essential component of the 39-turbine project in neighboring Highland Plantation and would have crossed near four houses and a small park in Pleasant Ridge Plantation.
Doelger said there are a couple of big issues currently. One of the issues are the transmission lines in California. With the new administration in California, there is a lot of uncertainty with the market, he said. Doelger said Pathfinder is dedicating a lot of resources to California to sell their product there. The other issue is taxes in Wyoming.
Duke Energy reached a settlement with the Wyoming Department of Revenue regarding the amount of property tax it must pay for its wind farms in the state. The settlement reduces the North Carolina-based company's 2010 tax bill to $2.5 million from $2.8 million, Duke announced Monday.
Natrona County and the city of Casper haven't been turned on much by Rocky Mountain Power's performance, so both will protest the company's proposed 17.3 percent rate hike. ...The company buys the power generated by Chevron Global Power Co.'s wind farm, sends it to California, and the county seems left out of the process, he said.
Construction of the first wind farm in Campbell County was supposed to start in September, but the company building it has put the project on hold indefinitely. ...But in the months following the council's decision plans changed ...The wind industry has taken a hit across the country because the recession depressed electricity demand and the lack of consistent federal legislation.
The Converse County Commissioners faced a largely hostile crowd last week at a public hearing, and a subsequent vote, on the county's new commercial wind tower regulations. The hearing came as a controversial 62-tower wind generator project ...makes its way through local and state governments.
The whole idea, Williams said, is to take advantage of California's demand for renewable energy: the state has mandated that 33 percent of its energy come from renewable resources by 2020. "We're not going to supply all their renewable energy, but we can supply a good portion of it," he said.
"If we can restrict eminent domain in any way I think our landowners support that because we believe these issues should be addressed through private negotiations and agreement, not through holding a gun to somebody's head and threatening eminent domain."
Supporting wind turbines with the nation trillions of dollars in debt, with their minimal or nonexistent contributions to global warming and virtually no useful power generation, enormous cost and the "feel good" reason for their existence is like supporting an unemployed person taking his unemployment check and buying a hot tub.
Plenty of utility-owned wind turbines spin day and night within a stone's throw of Medicine Bow, but Mayor Kevin Colman says his town really hasn't benefited much. "All the energy is produced in Wyoming, it's shipped out of Wyoming. It never stays here," he said. He also says wind farms provide little employment. Even during wind-farm construction, out-of-state contractors usually bring the subcontractors with them.
Campbell County supported Third Planet getting the permit, but expressed several concerns about the project that it wanted addressed by the Siting Council, including a road use agreement, the set-back distance of the turbines and the bonding of the project.
Terry Weickum, Carbon County Commission chairman said the issue [eminent domain] is particularly salient for Carbon County given the roughly 51 wind farms proposed in the county this time last year, two of which have come to fruition. "Not all of them will be built, but (it's) guaranteed some will," Weickum said. The results may mean the implementation of eminent domain or condemnation authority.
To prepare for a planning review of the resource management plans that guide wind energy and other development on public lands, the Bureau of Land Management's Rock Springs and Rawlins field offices are hosting a series of open houses to collect information for a "visual inventory" of southern Wyoming.
A proposed wind farm on White Mountain has sparked a feverish debate throughout Sweetwater County. Next month local residents will get another chance to sound off on the issue. Residents will also be able to learn more about the Obstacle Collision Avoidance System (OCAS).