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BLM ends Wyoming wind farm study

After three years of work, the federal government has issued a draft version of a key environmental report for a proposed massive wind farm south of Rawlins.

The Bureau of Land Management released the draft of the environmental impact statement, or EIS, for the 1,000-turbine Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind project planed by Power Co. of Wyoming LLC.

The release of the 1,100-page statement is a key part of the permitting and development of the 2,500-megawatt wind farm because approximately half of the project is on land owned by the federal government.

“The draft EIS is a significant milestone as we work to turn Wyoming’s high-capacity, high-volume wind resources into a product that people need – cost-effective renewable energy,” said Bill Miller, president of chief executive of the company, in a written statement.

The proposed $4 billion to $6 billion wind farm, one of the world’s largest, according to the company, will sit on portions of 154 square miles of the Overland Trail Cattle Co. ranch, which spans a 500-square-mile checkerboard of public and private land. Power Co. of Wyoming is a subsidiary of Denver-based Anschutz Corp., which owns the ranch.

The company expects to begin construction of the project in 2012-13 after getting federal, state and county approval.

In its present design, the project could provide enough power for 800,000 homes, according to the company.

The BLM has scheduled two open house-style public meetings to gather comments on the draft environmental impact statement for the project.

The agency will host a meeting in Rawlins at the Jeffrey Memorial Community Center on Aug. 22, and in Saratoga at the Platte Valley Community Center on Aug. 23. Both meetings will take place from 4 to 7 p.m.

Comments may be submitted via email or mail to the BLM field office in Rawlins. All comments must be received by Oct. 19.