Library from Wyoming
The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday denied a petition by the Northern Laramie Range Alliance that would have effectively killed a pair of adjacent wind farms on ridges in the Mormon Canyon area, proposed by Wasatch Wind of Park City, Utah.
No developer with state turbine permits in hand has abandoned a project, Parfitt said. But a number of wind farms are on hold, have yet to complete additional construction phases or are still dealing with a range of issues.
The Sweetwater County Commission approved a temporary halt to applications for commercial wind farms, pending changes in county rules and public meetings. The county has not met state standards for wind farm zoning, and Commission Chairman Wally Johnson said that the county is not ready for any new wind farm projects.
The Northern Laramie Range Alliance appealed the permits granted by the Converse County Commission in May and by the state Industrial Siting Council -- a state board that must approve large commercial projects in the state -- in June.
Mead has expressed concern that the higher taxes might make wind energy companies look outside Wyoming. Nonetheless, the Legislature's Joint Revenue Interim Committee last fall rejected the governor's proposal to continue the tax exemption for wind energy projects while imposing a lower 2 percent impact fee on wind projects to support county governments.
Hard winters usually limit animals to certain areas where wind blows snow away and food is available. If those are the same places where turbines exist, and elk or antelope avoid turbines, it could hurt the winter survival rate of the herds, Beck said. "It is an area of research that we don't have a lot of information on.
Duke-American Transmission Company acquired the 3,000-megawatt-capacity Zephyr Power Transmission Project, committing to use at least 2,100 MW of the transmission line's capacity to provide wind power to California and the southwestern United States from the wind-rich areas of eastern Wyoming.
The Legislature's Joint Revenue Interim Committee in October shot down Mead's proposal to continue the tax exemption for wind energy projects while imposing a 2 percent impact fee on wind projects to support county governments. Despite that setback, Mead said he's not giving up on addressing the wind taxation issue.
Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, a member of the Senate Revenue Committee, said Tuesday he doesn't believe the wind industry is taxed enough. He said the 2-percent impact fee that Mead and others had supported, "really unacceptably lowered taxes on the industry, and I don't think that was appropriate."
The county requests the most restrictive development criteria be placed upon enXco uniformly on lands under BLM administration as well as privately-owned and state-owned lands. The project will encompass a total of 7,652 acres -- 48 percent of which is privately owned, 44 percent under the BLM's administration.
The 500,000-volt line would be a direct current line that’s projected to cost about $3.5 billion. The project would help transport electricity generated from Wyoming wind farms to California, which has set a renewable target to obtain one-third of its power from renewable sources by 2020.
U.S. Bureau of Land Management archeologist Pat Walker met with several state and federal historical and cultural organizations in Rawlins. The purpose was to develop an agreement between the Power Company of Wyoming, the developer of the 1,000-wind turbine farm located south of Rawlins, and the historical and cultural societies.
Rather than see building more transmission as the solution, though, Bowman sees its drawbacks as a symptom of a bigger problem: a highly centralized power system. "I'm going to predict the day of very large transmission lines to carry energy from remote areas to urban centers are about over," he said. "What I do think you'll see happen is smaller projects that are built to accommodate the existing system you have in the rural electric districts and to move that power to the cities that way. I think there will be a different model."
Construction on a wind tower manufacturing facility that was supposed to employ 150 in Laramie County has been delayed until at least next spring. This throws up "caution flags," said Randy Bruns, CEO of Cheyenne LEADS, the economic development corporation for Cheyenne and Laramie County.
The available data, science and policy haven't caught up with the pace of wind energy development. Still, wind energy development is apparently killing golden eagles, which seem especially susceptible to collisions with the turbines.
A federal jury awarded Tetra Tech EC Inc. $1,495,539 against Jerry Herling Construction Inc. for breaching its contract by failing to pay its vendors, according to its verdict after a two-week trial in October. Some of those vendors are Wyoming businesses, according to bankruptcy court records.
"I think it's fair to say our commission is torn about the wind projects in our county," he said. "It's hard to argue against green energy, but quite honestly, is it any more economical than other forms of energy, if the tax incentives weren't in place?" Reid's concerns about the value of wind energy match those in the larger national debate about renewable, or "green," energy.
The matter of protecting eagles reflects a continuing effort on the part of the BLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Teton Wind Power to mitigate impacts on the birds. She said U.S. Fish and Wildlife discovered three eagle nests in the project area and is the lead agency working to craft a protection plan.
Sophie Osborn, a wildlife biologist with the Wyoming Outdoor Council, said the council supports the development of renewable energy sources such as wind, but industrial-scale development has environmental costs such as bird and bat mortality and habitat fragmentation. The placement of wind farms is a critical element in protecting wildlife, she said.
Policy advisers to Mead as well as lobbyists for the wind energy industry had testified in favor of the bill. Its defeat by the committee leaves no apparent barriers to the state's starting to impose sales and use taxes on wind projects next year. In addition, the state next year is set to start imposing a $1-per-megawatt tax on wind energy production.