Natrona County’s hotels, construction firms, machine shops and other businesses stand to benefit from a proposed wind farm south of Glenrock in Converse County, representatives of a Utah company said Tuesday.
Wasatch Wind of Park City, Utah, is preparing an application to the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council for the 66-turbine, 100-megawatt Pioneer Wind Park, which probably will need roads in Natrona County as well as lodging for workers and the expertise of those who have built other wind farms, Michelle Stevens told county commissioners at a work session.
Wasatch Wind intends to build the project in two 50-megawatt stages, and has already signed 20-year power purchase agreements with Rocky Mountain Power, Stevens said. The first stage is expected to begin commercial operations by the end of 2011, she added. One megawatt can power up to 350 homes.
The company will build a six-mile connection line to hook up to an existing Rocky Mountain Power transmission line, Stevens said.
Wasatch Wind has signed lease agreements with 11 landowners for 27,000 acres and has applied for a lease of 2,700 acres of state lands. The turbine sites and infrastructure will occupy about 2 percent of this land area, and none of it is in core sage grouse area, she said.
The company also has a plan with its leases to decommission and remove the towers, she said.
The company has not selected the specific access road from Interstate 25 to the site, but it probably will be either Mormon Canyon or Box Elder, Stevens said.
The route that will be used to ship the massive tower, turbine, nacelle and other parts remains to be decided, too, she said.
Commission Chairman Rob Hendry was quick to urge the use of the Bishop Rail Spur east of the Casper/Natrona County International Airport. “That’s your closest and best bet.”
Hendry also noted the Industrial Siting Council, the state agency that studies socioeconomic and environmental impacts before issuing permits for major construction projects, takes into consideration the amount of wear and tear on roads and the need for medical and law enforcement services.
He expected the ISC to award about the same ratio of mitigation funds for the Pioneer Wind Park as it did for the Duke Energy’s Campbell Hill Windpower Project, with 66.1 percent to Natrona County and 33.9 percent to Converse County.
George Blankenship, a consultant for Wasatch Wind, told commissioners he has not completed a socioeconomic study of the Pioneer project’s effects on Natrona County.
However, more than half the workers for Duke Energy’s 200-megawatt Top of the World project north of Glenrock have been staying in Natrona County, Blankenship said. While the Pioneer project is not nearly that large, he expects many of its workers to rent rooms in Natrona County, too.
Wasatch Wind anticipates between 100 and 200 jobs will be created during construction, and between eight and 10 employees will be needed to maintain the wind farm longterm.
Besides the Pioneer Wind Park, the company has been developing plans for the Black Mountain Wind Park in western Natrona County, Stevens said.
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