FORT HALL – A Council-to-Council meeting between the Fort Hall Business Council and the Southern Ute Tribal Council was held on April 4, 2012 at the Leonard Birch Building in Ignacio, Colorado regarding the partnership that was formed for the Wheatgrass Ridge Wind Project. Tribal leaders and staff that participated include Councilman Darrell Dixey, Councilman Devon Boyer, and Vice Chairman Glenn Fisher along with Travis Stone, Energy Development Specialist and Executive Director Angelo Gonzales.
Shoshone-Bannock Renewable Energy Development Company (SBRED) and the Southern Ute Alternative Energy, LLC formed a partnership to pursue development of a potential wind project by forming a company called Wheatgrass Ridge Wind, LLC (managed by both owners). This development work was performed to get a better understanding of the viability and feasibility of a wind project on the reservation. Part of that development work was an ongoing and ever changing risk analysis. This risk analysis was composed of various factors that would indicate the flaws or risks in the completion of a wind project. There was a couple of risk factors that could not be mitigated properly and Wheatgrass Ridge Wind, LLC felt that stopping the project now would be the most appropriate course of action.
The development activities that the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes were involved in, through their partnership interest in Wheatgrass Ridge Wind, were a great example of evaluating the feasibility and viability of projects on the reservation. This development work allowed the Tribes to evaluate the project from many perspectives, environmentally, financially, culturally, and also gain the feedback from the community. The project may not have been successfully constructed but the process to better understand the viability before just jumping in blindly was a success. The project site was a great site to support wind power on a technical level but a wind project needs to have all the right factors in line to be a successful project. Wheatgrass is winding down all development activities right now and is trying to close out all the loose ends on this project.
Energy Development Specialist, Travis Stone says, “The development activities were a great opportunity to better understand the viability of the proposed project as well as learn more about the resources on the Fort Hall Reservation. Although the project did not go through, tribal staff learned a lot through this experience.”
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