Library from Wyoming
Albany County could gain a new source of energy within the next few years if permits are granted for a proposed wind farm and transmission line project.
Under the settlement, PacifiCorp was required to pay $400,000 in fines, $200,000 in restitution to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and $1.9 million to the congressionally chartered National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to help protect golden eagles near the company’s wind facilities.
Richard O’Gara, of Cheyenne, said he voted against the project because he wanted more information. The company did not provide an income statement nor explain its relationship to Fir Tree, he said. Instead, sPower produced a balance sheet showing its assets and liabilities from the first half of 2015.
Court records show the scam involved acquiring land near Casper and in Butte County, South Dakota, to satisfy investors that the projects were moving forward with construction of wind farms. Organizers put up signs at the South Dakota site and took pictures of contractors they hired to push dirt around to make it appear construction was ongoing.
Wyoming’s sage grouse strategy may have satisfied federal regulators this week, but conservation groups say the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision doesn’t prove grouse are in recovery. ...“The sage grouse faces huge problems from industrial development and livestock grazing across the West,” Molvar said in a press release. “And now the interior department seems to be squandering a major opportunity to put science before politics and solve these problems.”
But in Wyoming, one of the breeziest states in the country, no new wind capacity has been added since 2010. Moreover, no new additions are expected in the near term, as projects already on the planning board work their way through a lengthy permitting process. The main constraint facing the industry in the state remains transmission, analysts said.
The NLRA has challenged the turbines at the Wyoming Supreme Court, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and in federal court. It lost in all three venues but succeeded in slowing Pioneer with a flood of legal briefs. The next showdown will come at the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council, the state regulatory board that permits large-scale developments. On Monday, the commission will consider sPower's request to reduce its reclamation bond for the facility after initial plans were downsized.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service is mulling whether to list the greater sage grouse as endangered this September. Impacts from wind energy development may play a role in that decision. ...Rutledge believes humanity needs to transition to clean power sources to combat climate change. But, he would vote for oil and gas development on sage grouse habitat over wind energy, if he had a choice.
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.