Library filed under Impact on Landscape from Wyoming
Judy Mattinson expressed horror at the idea of spoiling the "sweet, peaceful viewshed" of the escarpment with wind turbines. "I can't see how you can move forward without impacting the beauty" of the area, she said. "The damage will irrevocable and unavoidable. "Anybody who has not visited the mountain in the spring and seen the wildflowers ... can't know how beautiful it is," she continued. "And it won't be that way again."
This isn't a "clash of cultures" between "longtime ranch families" and "wealthy newcomers," and it's pure fantasy to say that anti-wind sentiment in the oil and gas industry motivates opposition to industrialization of the Northern Laramie Range. ...Industrialization of these mountains will destroy the business opportunities and property value of an unsullied Western mountain landscape, and the nonmonetary value of open space, silence and a black sky at night.
Wind farms are becoming a familiar site along Wyoming's interstates and highways. Residents know wind development is out there and that there is a lot of it. What they do not know is how the industry will alter the state's landscape in the future.
"Wyoming is not only a recipient for proposals for transmission, we're also (electricity) generators," Lahti said. And wind turbines, which can reach 400 feet, will dominate the views in parts of Wyoming unless state and federal governments, historical preservation organizations, tribes and industry avoid cluttering the landscape before they build, he said.
In employment terms, wind farms are large construction projects. Most of the jobs are temporary. Permanent jobs that might be considered wholly wind energy related are few in number. Greg Efthimiou, a spokesman for Duke Energy, said peak employment during construction at the Campbell Hill project near Casper is expected to be about 150 workers. The company will erect 66, 1.5-megawatt General Electric wind turbines in the Cole Creek drainage.
It seems likely that any expansion of Tasco Engineering Inc.'s proposed wind farm on scenic White Mountain in southwest Wyoming -- from the 36 wind turbines already permitted by the county to possibly 237 wind towers -- will hinge on whether a some sort of deal about the placement of the turbines and their visibility from town can be reached.
To reach the ultimate goal of wind producing 20 percent of the energy used in this country by 2030, tens of thousands of 200-foot-high turbines must be installed nationwide, with many of them slated for gusty public lands in Wyoming, Washington, Oregon and Idaho. That's sparked a fight that looks much like the one waged about natural gas in the past couple of decades. Only this time the battle lines are drawn in unexpected places.
Development of wind energy and sage grouse protection are on a collision course in Wyoming, where state officials are worried that a future Endangered Species Act listing for the chicken-like bird could ruin the golden egg laid by the Obama administration's renewable energy mandates. ..."The bird does well in the existing conditions that are out here. It's the new threat from wind energy that has got us so worried," said Aaron Clark, special adviser on energy infrastructure to Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D). "I don't think you could justify a [federal endangered species] listing for that bird in Wyoming without the threat from wind development."
Wyoming's Governor Dave Freudenthal wrote this letter to the legislative Wind Energy Task Force formed in the 2008-2009 session. The Task Force will be studying various aspects of the legal framework surrounding wind energy development including state statutes related to industrial siting and the authority of the Public Service Commission; federal statutes related to state and county authorities and other issues pertaining to wind energy development and its associated transmission infrastructure. The Governor is very clear that environmental concerns will not take a back seat to wind development and that a balance between land uses is essential.
A community meeting to clear the air about Houston-based Chevron Global Power's proposed wind farm kicked up clouds about county regulations and company behavior at the Evansville school on Tuesday evening. ..."The issue is about you," responded Charlie Miller of the Elkhorn Creek Ranch LLC, whose property shares the southern fence line of the site. "Nobody wants this except you people," Miller said later. "Take it back to Houston with you."
The Natrona County Commissioners formally voted on Feb. 3 to approve a zoned use control area and the conditional use permits that would allow wind turbines within the former north tank farm area of the closed refinery. Construction was planned to start in May. But last week, the preparations for the county's first WECS (Commercial Wind Energy Conversion System) generated a gust of concern from the Natrona County Commission.
The wind energy boom blowing through Sweetwater County will be a gale force soon and could threaten the region's quality of life, a host of speakers said this week. Officials urged residents to get involved early and often in the decision-making process. To be determined is where, how and how much energy development will occur in the county's mostly undeveloped wind power industry.
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.
A planned wind project near Hanna in Carbon County has raised concerns from some about how it might affect natural and cultural resources in the area. The Medicine Bow Conservation District and the Hanna Historical Society asked Horizon Wind Energy not to harm natural or cultural resources when building its 154-turbine wind project.
The Laramie-based Biodiversity Conservation Alliance released a 50-plus page study on Friday, offering recommendations for places in the state the group deems most suitable for wind power development. The report also outlines locations that should be avoided, and the places where the group says developers must tread carefully, for environmental reasons.
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.