PacifiCorp cleared a major permitting hurdle for its Glenrock and Rolling Hills wind farms Tuesday, although communities which may be affected by the large construction workforce didn’t get all that they wanted to address anticipated impacts.
The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality’s Industrial Siting Council approved PacifiCorp’s plans and issued a permit that allows the utility to begin construction.
To the dismay of the communities represented at the hearing, the council opted not to allow information about a separate PacifiCorp project at the Dave Johnston Power Plant in Glenrock that is expected to bring in even more workers.
The proposed retrofit and emissions work at PacifiCorp’s nearby Dave Johnston Power Plant would attract 100 workers for at least a month this spring, about 200 workers this fall, and, next year, a peak of 350 workers, Rocky Mountain Power spokesman Jeff Hymas said.
Industrial Siting Division Administrator Todd Parfitt said Wednesday that it is “still to be determined” whether the retrofit falls under ISC jurisdiction.
Industrial siting permits are required for projects costing more than $168 million. The council reviews socio-economic and environmental impacts of planned projects.
The day-long hearing involved testimony from PacifiCorp executives on the project’s merit and design, as well as a plea from local communities asking the council to consider the project’s anticipated impacts in Converse and Natrona counties.
However, only Converse County and municipalities Douglas, Glenrock and Rolling Hills asked to be parties. Natrona County did not participate, and therefore, will have no authority to go before the ISC in the future regarding the wind farm impacts, the council determined.
Representing Converse County, Glenrock and Rolling Hills, Converse County Attorney Quentin Richardson said each party is in favor of the wind farm, but the communities want to secure commitments from PacifiCorp for the well-being of the communities.
Even if PacifiCorp has housing secured in Casper for the wind farm construction workers, Richardson said, that leaves an even larger anticipated workforce arriving for the Dave Johnston work, which Converse County communities may have to absorb.
Breakout: Routing the ‘superloads’
At the heart of the communities’ case was a plea to avoid using Glenrock’s Fourth Street to transport workers and materials.
Fourth Street runs from I-25 through Glenrock proper, passing a school, the public library, homes and a community center. Glenrock Mayor Steve Cielinski said the route cuts through the center of the community, and heavy truck traffic would pose safety risks.
Also at question is the route turbine manufacturer General Electric will take to bring the 158 turbines to the site. PacifiCorp estimated the turbines will require 1,200 “super loads,” or oversized semi loads.
PacifiCorp attorney Paul Hickey stated that the Wyoming Department of Transportation will provide GE with transportation plans. The company did, however, agree that project traffic coming from Casper should use Highway 20-26, which offers a link to Highway 95 circumventing Glenrock.
Instead of funding an estimated $10 million improvement project for county route 55 Ranch Road, PacifiCorp will build its own road off Highway 95. The project will use an old railroad bed the company already owns.
The council said it will revisit the issue of PacifiCorp uses 55 Ranch Road more tha incidentally.
By RENA DELBRIDGE
21 February 2008