Articles from Wyoming
More than $4.4 million was generated from taxes on wind production across Wyoming in the last fiscal year, according to the state Department of Revenue.
“Golden eagles have attracted so much more attention because of wind turbine development across the West.” Largely because of this more recent threat, in 2013 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service created a western golden eagle conservation team to address concerns and find solutions to “move the conservation needle.”
PacifiCorp, the parent company of Rocky Mountain Power, has been responsible for 38 dead golden eagles and killing at least 336 other protected birds with its wind turbines north of Glenrock. ...The federal government has fined PacifiCorp $2.5 million for this act, but Wyoming wildlife advocates and ratepayers need to be assured that the fine’s impact on PacifiCorp’s balance sheet will be borne by the shareholders only.
PacifiCorp said it will pay $400,000 in fines, $200,000 in restitution to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and $1.9 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to help protect golden eagles near the facilities.
“PacifiCorp Energy built two of its Wyoming wind projects in a manner it knew would likely result in the deaths of eagles and other protected birds,” said Sam Hirsch, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. ...“Improperly sited and operated wind energy facilities can kill significant numbers of federally protected birds and other species,”
Efforts to conserve a struggling species of grouse that ranges across the Western U.S. are having far-reaching effects on the region’s energy industry as the Obama administration decides whether the bird needs more protections. ...The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s delay on the parcels underscores just how much is at stake for an industry that finds its future inextricably intertwined with a bird once known primarily for its elaborate mating display.
Alan Minier, the chairman of the Wyoming Public Service Commission, in a Nov. 21 letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, wrote that the federal proposal overestimates utilities' ability to improve the efficiency of their coal-fired power plants, overstates the potential growth of renewable power and errs in its calculations concerning Wyoming's natural gas generation. ...The agency assumes the state could install 9.4 million megawatt hours of low-carbon or no-carbon electricity generation by 2030.
Using documents, emails and interviews with former wildlife officials, the AP in articles published last year documented more than four dozen eagle deaths in Wyoming since 2009, and dozens more in California, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Nevada. Corporate surveys showed at least 20 eagles found dead in recent years on Pacificorp wind farms in Wyoming. Wind energy companies objected to the AP’s efforts to uncover more information about the numbers of bird deaths.
A proposal to export twice as much Wyoming wind power to Los Angeles as the amount of electricity generated by the Hoover Dam includes an engineering feat even more massive than that famous structure: Four chambers, each approaching the size of the Empire State Building, would be carved from an underground salt deposit to hold huge volumes of compressed air.
Under the plan proposed on Tuesday, Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy would build and operate a $4 billion wind farm near Chugwater, Wyo., 40 miles north of Cheyenne. It would generate up to 2,100 megawatts of electricity, the bulk of which would be destined for California's Los Angeles basin.
Why on earth would anyone want to get into the costly, complicated business of wind generation and transmission? ...The business case is to bring renewable energy from Wyoming to California. But like anything else, that remains to be seen, so it is a gamble.
The largest proposed onshore wind project in the United States does not need a recently expired federal tax credit to be commercially viable, the head of the company planning to build 1,000 turbines in Carbon County said last week. ...Electricity generated by the nearly $5 billion facility would be cheaper for utilities and consumers alike if Congress were to renew the credit.
Power Company of Wyoming has also applied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for an eagle take permit, which would allow the company to kill a designated number of raptors each year ...In its application to the state, the company said it intends to provide $1.68 billion in its own funding to build the project. The remaining $3.11 billion will be financed through debt.
Hutchins believes seasonal shutdowns or retrofitting power lines and towers are useful tools for reducing bird deaths once wind farms are up and running. The best strategy, though, is siting the turbines properly in the first place. “Unfortunately, these things are going up anywhere, including in important bird areas, and we think that’s highly problematic,” Hutchins said.
Wasatch Wind’s 80 megawatt Pioneer Park wind farm near Glenrock is the youngest of the Big Three, having first been announced in 2010. We don’t know the project’s exact price tag, but we can be sure it is no less than $190 million because that is the minimum threshold needed for the Department of Environmental Quality’s Industrial Siting Council to consider a project application.
The wind farm, first proposed in 2010, still has several hurdles to clear. Wasatch needs to announce a funding plan by May 18 and begin construction by July 18 to meet the terms of its state siting permit. It is unclear where those efforts now stand.
The Chokecherry/Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project is the largest ever proposed in the United States and would likely slaughter dozens of eagles each year, plus hundreds of additional birds and bats, according to the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance (BCA).
The American Bird Conservancy, along with the Laramie, Wyo.-based Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, submitted a 15-page letter to the Fish and Wildlife Service expressing concerns about impacts to golden eagles if the massive Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind project is built as proposed in southeast Wyoming. ...There’s simply too little information about eagle populations in the region to know what mitigation strategies would be most effective to protect eagles and to justify a possible eagle take permit,
Wyoming residents enjoy the cheapest electricity prices in the nation, thanks to low-cost power from coal-fired plants near vast surface mines in the Powder River Basin. California, which has all but phased out coal power and has the nation's most aggressive renewable energy laws, has close to the highest prices, according to U.S. Energy Department data.
Utilities are required by a law from 1978 to accept electricity generated by renewable-power projects of less than 100 megawatts. But the law comes with a hitch. Utilities are required to purchase the power only if doing so doesn’t lead to a rate increase for consumers. Current limitations in transmission capacity mean Rocky Mountain Power cannot offer Wasatch a higher price without triggering a rate increase,