GLENROCK – Rocky Mountain Power officials hope to gauge the public’s response to a proposed 66-turbine wind farm the company is proposing at the old Dave Johnston coal mine about 12 miles north of town.
The company holds an open house meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. today at Glenrock Middle School to explain the project, answer questions and take comments.
“We hope people come out for the open house,” Rocky Mountain Power media spokesman Jeff Hymas said. “We think it’s an exciting project that will benefit the county, the state and our customers. We’re looking forward to sharing more information with the public.”
People can peruse about a dozen display boards depicting aspects of the project, and employees will answer questions one on one during the informal gathering. Rocky Mountain Power is required to solicit public input as part of the project permitting process.
The proposed wind farm would produce up to 99 megawatts of electricity, part of Rocky Mountain Power and sister company PacifiCorp’s goal to add 2,000 megawatts of renewable power to its entire system by 2013.
The company recently purchased a 140.4-megawatt wind project, Marengo, under construction now near Dayton, Wash. Rocky Mountain this week announced another 66-turbine wind farm near Medicine Bow and is considering other potential wind energy sites, both in and outside of Wyoming.
The reclaimed mine site in Glenrock, held entirely by the company, helps keep the project costs down and is an area well-suited to wind generation, with good strength and availability, Hymas said.
“One of the exciting things about this project is the fact that we’re proposing to build a wind energy facility on the site of a reclaimed surface coal mine,” Hymas said. “The Glenrock wind energy project really brings us full circle, allowing us to utilize the property once again to generate electricity. Only this time, we’ll be using renewable wind energy.”
He added wind is an attractive energy source because it is free, renewable and doesn’t produce pollutants.
The Dave Johnston coal mine produced coal from 1958 to 2000, providing the bulk of raw materials needed to the nearby Dave Johnston Power Plant. Reclamation was completed in 2005. Existing transmission lines in the immediate area also increase the project’s financial feasibility.
Transmission shouldn’t be a major concern early on.
“We do have existing capacity in our lines in the immediate area,” Hymas said. “We will have to build some additional transmission to connect the project to existing transmission.”
Rocky Mountain expects to retain about 10 full-time employees for the Glenrock project once construction is complete. Those jobs will likely include engineers, turbine maintenance and operations staff and computer technicians.
Rocky Mountain hopes to start construction in early 2008, depending on the permitting process, and be operational by October 2008. The company requested a “certificate of public convenience and necessity” from the Wyoming Public Service Commission on July 3, and will need a permit from the state’s Industrial Siting Council. The construction phase could entail 100 to 300 workers involved in earthwork, steel work, concrete, mechanical tasks and electricians.
“We’ll be looking to utilize local workers where possible,” both in the temporary and long-term needs, Hymas said.
Rocky Mountain Power serves customers in Wyoming, Utah and Idaho, and PacifiCorp serves Oregon, Washington and California.
By Rena Delbridge
1 August 2007
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