Articles from Wyoming
Wyoming’s largest electrical provider, PacifiCorp, wants to speed up its shift from coal-fired power to renewable energy. But its plan for achieving that vision lacks proper analysis, transparency and modeling, and doesn’t adequately consider other alternatives, such as nuclear power or adding carbon capture to coal plants.
Citizen's group Albany County for Smart Energy Development, spoke Monday morning in front of the Albany County Courthouse. The group presented a petition to the Albany County Board of Commissioners asking for continued review of wind regulations.
Despite the topic not being on the agenda, Wyoming lawmakers narrowly voted to propose a bill increasing the tax burden on wind energy producers in the state late Friday afternoon. After impassioned public comment on the topic, the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions decided to draft a bill to eliminate a three-year electricity tax moratorium available to new wind energy projects. In a 6-5 vote, lawmakers voted to draft the legislation for review in November.
A new group called, Albany County for Smart Energy Development delivered 1,224 signatures in support of the petition urging county officials to amend wind energy development regulations. ..."Albany County's current Industrial Wind Energy Regulations do NOT adequately protect the county's natural resources, nor do they ensure the health, safety, and quality of life of the residents, businesses, and recreational users in proximity of these facilities," the petition stated. "I request the county immediately review and amend existing regulations.”
An ongoing protest against Albany County wind energy rules continued on Monday when a petition critical of current rules and carrying more than 1,200 signatures was delivered to the county’s board of commissioners.
Reduced to essentials, the PacifiCorp proposal is to close its coal-fired power plants in Wyoming, replace them with wind and solar farms and build out new and upgraded transmission lines to deliver power to its customers, 85% of which are in states to the west of Wyoming. The proposed wind development alone would involve project areas encompassing roughly 500 square miles of our landscape.
A new wind project proposed for Albany County near Veduawoo has run into strong headwinds from local residents. Houston-based ConnectGen wants to put wind turbines on 26,000 acres of private and state land stretching from near the Ames Monument and Vedauwoo to an area west and south of Tie Siding.
Once wind facilities have been up and running in Wyoming for three years, the state levies the $1 per MWh wind generation tax. That comes in addition to sales and property taxes. Raising the tax to $4 per MWh would bring the state an additional $1.9 billion.
The blades, which typically make up about 10% of a wind turbine’s total material, are made of fiberglass. Fiberglass is a tricky material that can’t be recycled or easily repurposed. And as utility companies look to replace aging wind turbines, the machines’ blades are being buried in stacks at a handful of landfills around the country, including in the Casper Regional Landfill.
The Albany County Planning and Zoning Commission will not recommend sweeping changes to wind energy regulations in the near-term, voting instead last week to support minimal amendments proposed by the county’s planning department.
Albany County’s planning and zoning board moved forward with recommending changes to regulations on wind energy on Wednesday designed to bring the county in line with state statute, but they haven’t ruled out even more stringent measures.
A group of Albany County residents seeking a change to the county’s rules for wind energy projects plans to hold a peaceful protest rally at the county courthouse at 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Like all counties in Wyoming, Albany County has a comprehensive plan which guides policymakers where growth and various land uses should take place, consistent with the vision and values defined with extensive input from the public and stakeholders. The overarching theme that emerged from this process is that county residents want to keep the county rural, conserving its traditions and character, supporting agriculture, wildlife, habitat, and scenic vistas.
LARAMIE — Albany County government could be moving toward stopping all wind energy development in the county if it adopts regulations being proposed by a Laramie law firm, a wind energy company representative said this week.
The Laramie City Council is slated to decide whether to back a wind energy development planned for a large swath of land in Albany County next month, but it heard an earful of opposition to the project during a work session Tuesday.
Edwards reminded the commission of the wind energy facility permitting authority the Wyoming Legislature gave counties in 2010. He said that is the most authority the Legislature has given the counties in terms of regulating anything. “Part of that reasoning is because it is such a local issue and affects local people much greater than everything else,” Edwards said. He added that the county cannot regulate things like mining and water quality, “but it does have the authority to fully permit and regulate wind energy facilities.”
Incredible photos have revealed the final resting place of massive wind turbine blades that cannot be recycled, and are instead heaped up in piles in landfills. The municipal landfill in Casper, Wyoming, is the repository of at least 870 discarded blades, and one of the few locations in the country that accepts the massive fiberglass objects.
This viable opportunity is being threatened. Albany County regulations currently allow for the ability to sell all these opportunities and decimate the attractive landscape surrounding Laramie, Vedauwoo, and our national forests and monuments (in reality most of Albany county), with massive wind turbines, interconnection switchyards, substations, maintenance buildings, and miles of access roads and transmission lines for a monetary reward. Short sighted thinking is not the avenue we as a community should accept when our future is at stake.
Current Albany County regulations are outdated and not stringent enough to accommodate the increase in height and volume of projected turbines, and obviously will not protect our residents, historic landmarks, or state parks. Other Wyoming counties have adjusted their regulations to evolve with the changes in the industry in order to protect their residents and natural resources. Citizens of Albany County deserve that same protection.
A planned wind development project around Tie Siding will have to wait for the Laramie City Council’s blessing, if that blessing ever comes.