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A quiet land rush is under way among the buttes of southeastern Wyoming, and it is changing the local rancher culture. The whipping winds cursed by descendants of the original homesteaders now have real value for out-of-state developers who dream of wind farms or of selling the rights to bigger companies. But as developers descend upon the area, drawing comparisons to the oil patch "land men" in the movie "There Will Be Blood," the ranchers of Albany, Converse and Platte Counties are rewriting the old script.
Representatives from White Mountain Wind LLC came before the county commissioners yesterday to seek adjustments for the placement of 36 wind turbines on White Mountain. After much discussion, White Mountain Wind withdrew the resolution, in order to bring it back at another time. ...White Mountain Wind asked to untable the resolution to discuss moving the proposed placement of the turbines to locations near the approved locations to make better use of the wind on White Mountain.
And turbines are still something of a novelty for most of us, so the "not in my backyard" mentality hasn't yet set in when it comes to wind farms. In fact, as we reported in the Energy Journal, groups of ranchers in eastern Wyoming -- seeing an opportunity to make some money without significantly disrupting their ag operations -- have banded together to market their properties to wind energy developers. That, of course, could change. As turbines begin to spring up in more sensitive, pristine spots, or closer to residential areas, the novelty could wear off quickly.
The agency will conduct an environmental impact statement, which will analyze the potential impacts of the 1,000-turbine wind farm spanning about 98,500 acres, according to the BLM. Federal land managers will consider concerns regarding rights-of-way as well as the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of installing and maintaining the facilities, which would include access roads, electric power gathering cables, an electric transmission line, and electric substations.
The $3 billion, 900-mile-long, high-voltage line would provide for 3,000 megawatts of wind energy generation in Wyoming for delivery to emerging renewable energy markets in the Desert Southwest, according to Anschutz affiliate TransWest Express LLC. The announcement comes just weeks after another affiliate of Anschutz, Power Company of Wyoming LLC, filed notice to the Bureau of Land Management of its intention to install some 2,000 megawatts of wind generation in Carbon County. The permitting process for both projects could exceed two years.
The Anschutz Corporation, through an affiliate Transwest Express LLC, has acquired the rights to develop a proposed $3 billion, 900-mile, 3,000 megawatt high-voltage transmission line to bring electricity from wind farms in southern Wyoming to growing markets of southern California, Las Vegas and Phoenix. ...Another Anschutz affiliate, Power Company of Wyoming, LCC, already has started work developing a 2,000 megawatt wind farm project in Carbon County Wyoming.
A newly proposed wind power project in southern Wyoming would be one of the biggest in the world, and would more than triple the current number of utility-sized wind turbines in the Cowboy State. The proposal involves two adjacent wind farms in Carbon County that would be erected -- with a total of 1,000 turbines producing 2,000 megawatts of electricity, said Bruce Collins, spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management's Rawlins office. The two farms, taken together, would be one of the largest wind power projects on the planet, surpassing the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center in Taylor County, Texas, which has 421 turbines and a production capacity of 735 megawatts, according to Florida Power and Light, the owner of the Texas wind farm.
A Texas-based wind energy company is making plans for the construction of a new wind farm in eastern Carbon County. Project manager Nate Sandvig of Horizon Wind Energy presented plans for the project this week to the Carbon County Commission and the Carbon County Planning Commission. ...The new wind farm would be located in the Simpson Ridge area south of Medicine Bow, near PacifiCorp's Arlington wind farm. Energy produced at the site would be shipped to California and other parts of the Pacific Coast, Sandvig said.
Electrical power producers are in line to build 850 megawatts of new electrical generation in Wyoming -- and most of it will be wind energy, according to the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority. ...Steve Waddington, executive director of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, said 12 different "bidders" successfully passed a financial credit check and are qualified to compete for transmission capacity on the proposed power line. "It's not exclusively wind developers that are qualified to bid, but it is predominantly so," Waddington said. "The project looks pretty promising."
Local government officials are concerned about the cumulative effects of two major Rocky Mountain Power projects in Converse County, and they hope impact fees will help alleviate law enforcement, housing and other concerns. Rocky Mountain Power recently obtained an industrial siting permit for two 66-turbine, 99-megawatt wind farms in the Rolling Hills area near Glenrock, with the potential to add another 26. Now, the company is proposing major maintenance and pollution control upgrades to the coal-fired Dave Johnston Power Plant on the outskirts of Glenrock. State Industrial Siting Council permits are required for projects with construction costs of $170.3 million or more. The process is designed to help communities deal with the impacts of major new projects. ...Parfitt said an industrial siting permit for the Dave Johnston work would consider the cumulative impacts of Rocky Mountain Power's Rolling Hills and Glenrock wind farms. In particular, the council would weigh overlaps of work forces and potential housing issues.
Developers will take bids from power generators, distributors and others for space on a proposed power line to transmit electricity from eastern Wyoming to the Colorado Front Range. Developers of the "Wyoming-Colorado Intertie" project will hold an open-season auction in June, hoping to collect commitments for up to 900 megawatts of transmission. Wyoming wind-generated power is expected to make up a significant portion of the power committed to the line, according to officials. If the June auction is successful, the line could be built and put into operation by mid-2013.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.