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Brent Lathrop, Southeast Wyoming program director for The Nature Conservancy, said that while conservation groups are excited about an alternative to traditional energy development in the state, turbines could be just as damaging to a landscape as oil and gas development. "We could be facing a bigger impact on our wildlife than oil and gas ever thought about doing," he said.
New Interior Secretary Ken Salazar went overboard when he said recently that windmills off the East Coast could generate enough electricity to replace most, if not all, of the coal-fired power plants in the country. ...It is clear that the new administration is changing the nation's energy policy, putting more focus on renewables and clean energy. But coal has clearly not been taken out of the equation, even though we're not likely to see construction of many more traditional coal fired power plants.
Last week, the Bureau of Land Management authorized the establishment of special offices in Wyoming and other Western states to expedite that renewable energy development on federal public lands. BLM officials said Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne issued a Secretarial Order on Friday that will allow the agency to establish coordination offices in Wyoming, Arizona, California and Nevada.
Natrona County's time has come for a commercial wind power farm of its own. Representatives of Chevron Global Power Co. will plead their case tonight to the county's Planning and Zoning Commission to erect 11 wind turbines on the former Texaco property north of the North Platte River near Evansville. "This will be our first wind project, and the first (commercial) one in Natrona County," said Jennifer Silva of Chevron Global Power Co.
Rocky Mountain Power is asking landowners for their input on the route of a major transmission line proposed to run across southern Wyoming from the Casper area to the Idaho border. Representatives of the Salt Lake City-based utility told the Carbon County Commission last week that it has identified a 2-mile-wide corridor for its proposed Gateway West transmission line, which would carry 500 kilovolts of electricity.
Teton Wind recently filed an application with the BLM for a second-phase expansion of its county-permitted, 36-turbine White Mountain Wind Energy Project. White Mountain is a popular scenic recreation area that lies northwest of Rock Springs and north and east of the city of Green River, just north of Interstate 80. The project would be located on approximately 13,140 acres of federal, state and private lands on White Mountain.
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.