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Wind farm lease heads for final approval  

Credit:  By Josh Mitchell | Wyoming Tribune-Eagle | www.wyomingnews.com 21 August 2012 ~~

CHEYENNE – A company that wants to construct a wind farm on city property got its first sign of approval Monday.

The Morley Companies of Jackson Hole got initial approval to lease 12,607 acres on the western portion of the Belvoir Ranch, which is six miles west of Cheyenne.

The proposed wind farm is expected to generate at least $72 million in royalties to the city over the 30-year life of the lease, said Bruce Morley, CEO of Morley Companies.

Under the first 10 years of the lease, the city would get about $2 million each year; the second 10 years, $2.4 million; and the final 10 years, $2.7 million.

The amount of royalties the city would get could double if the wind energy were sold to California, Morley said.

“This is going to be great for the city of Cheyenne,” Morley said.

Cheyenne Wind LLC, which is the name of the company that has been formed to develop the wind farm, wants to construct a 150-tower wind farm at the Belvoir Ranch.

The city has no financial risk in leasing the land, city attorney Dan White said.

The Cheyenne City Council’s Finance Committee voted 3-0 Monday to recommend approval of the lease. The committee’s recommendation will go to the full council for final approval next Monday.

The energy could be transported to market through existing transmission lines and new lines being planned for Wyoming to the West Coast.

If the lease is approved, the wind farm would not go under construction for two or three years, Morley said. Prior to construction, there would have to be extensive environmental and wind testing done.

Finance Committee member Don Pierson asked if the fate of the federal wind energy tax credit, which expires in December, could hamper plans for the wind farm.

Morley said even if the tax credit is not renewed, Wyoming’s wind energy resources are still strong enough to make the project feasible.

In addition to the royalty revenue from the wind farm lease, there would also be more than $100 million in city, county and state tax revenue over the lease period, Morley said.

The $750 million, 300 megawatt project would also generate natural gas energy.

The fact that it would also be a natural gas facility would help Wyoming, since the state has an abundant amount of the resource, he noted.

“This new hybrid wind power/natural gas product is a game changer in the energy industry,” Morley said.

The combined natural gas/wind energy product could be sold to California. It would be acceptable under part of California’s mandate that 33 percent of its energy come from renewable sources by 2020, Morley added.

Cheyenne would be the first to have such a hybrid plant, he said. The natural gas portion of the plant could produce energy when the wind is not blowing, he noted.

Source:  By Josh Mitchell | Wyoming Tribune-Eagle | www.wyomingnews.com 21 August 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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