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Pioneer Wind Park I postponed

Wasatch Wind Intermountain, LLC, has postponed completion of Pioneer Wind Park I until 2013 due to the ongoing appeals of the projects’ permits by an opposition group.

Also this week, the Northern Laramie Range Alliance (NLRA) has filed appeals of Wasatch’s permits and of previous court rulings. Thus far, the state District Court has ruled against the appeals and re-confirmed the ISC and Converse County permits. NLRA has also unsuccessfully challenged the projects to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Wyoming Public Service Commission. Appeals of the ISC and county permits are now at the Wyoming Supreme Court and a decision is expected sometime after June of this year.

The latest appeals by NLRA were filed in early and mid April to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

With the decision to postpone the project, Wasatch said, the Power Purchase Agreement for PWP I has been terminated as PWP I has determined that it cannot fulfill its contractual online date of October due to the delays caused by the appeal process.

Rocky Mountain Power had two power purchase agreements with Wasatch for the Pioneer Wind Parks I and II.

“The decision to delay was difficult to make given the years of development and substantial resources that we have invested thus far and because so many people in the community are excited about the opportunities the wind projects will bring to the area,” Wasatch Senior Vice President of Communications Michelle Stevens said.

The Pioneer Wind Park I and Pioneer Wind Park II projects received permits from the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council (ISC) and from Converse County in the summer of 2011.

“Just as we’ve obtained the permits necessary for both projects and then prevailed in all the legal challenges to the projects thus far, we’re confident that the projects will move forward,” Stevens said. “However, at this time we simply feel it’s best to allow the legal process to play out before proceeding with construction.”

If the postponed projects are completed in 2013, they are estimated to generate more than $6.5 million in sales tax in the first year, Stevens said. The projects could potentially generate more than $20 million in property and excise taxes over the next 20 years, a majority of which will go to the public education in Wyoming. They would also result in more than $170 million of capital investment in infrastructure in Converse County, including improvements to existing local roads.