DOI authorizes landmark Wyoming wind project site

Author: Mike Williams | Posted: 10/12/2012

The Department of the Interior this week approved the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project site in Wyoming as suitable for wind energy development. The proposed project said to be the largest planned for the United States and possibly the largest wind farm in the world is a complex that could generate up to 3,000 megawatts of power in southeastern Wyoming.

The project developers expect the proposal to create an estimated 1,000 construction, operation and maintenance jobs and generate enough energy to power nearly 1 million homes. The project would consist of two sites encompassing up to 1,000 wind turbines on approximately 219,707 acres of land.

The project, to be located about 10 miles south of Rawlins in Carbon County, will be developed in phases and operated by Power Company of Wyoming LLC. When constructed, the wind complex is expected to have a footprint of less than 2,000 acres.

"Tapping the vast renewable energy resources on our nation’s public lands will create jobs while supporting a clean energy future," said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. "Wyoming has some of the best wind energy resources in the world, and there’s no doubt that this project has the potential to be a landmark example for the nation."
Salazar said the project approval meets President Obama's State of the Union pledge earlier this year to authorize 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy on our public lands – enough to meet the needs of more than 3 million homes – by the end of the year.

Since 2009, the Interior Department has authorized 33 renewable energy projects, including 18 utility-scale solar facilities, seven wind farms and eight geothermal plants, with associated transmission corridors and infrastructure that will enable the projects to connect to established power grids. When built, the projects will support an estimated 13,000 construction and operations jobs, according to project developers.

This week's approval authorizes the department's Bureau of Land Management to proceed with site specific environmental analysis for the Sierra Madre Wind Farm, the Chokecherry Wind Farm, the internal haul road, the internal 230 kilovolt transmission line, the rail distribution facility, and substations to connect the generated power to the electric grid.

Additional environmental reviews will be needed for the specific turbine layout and BLM officials say they will continue to engage stakeholders as additional reviews are carried out. At peak construction, project developers believe the project will create an estimated 1,000 full-time jobs; when operational, the facility is expected to employ 114 permanent workers. Officials say the complex could generate between $291 and $437 million in annual property taxes to Carbon County over 20 years.

The Power Company of Wyoming estimates that this project will contribute $232 million in sales and use taxes to Carbon County; and an estimated $149 million to the State of Wyoming over 20 years for electricity generation tax.

Source: 25x'25 Weekly Resosurce