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14-year-old wind farm permit still viable

A wind farm project slated for Simpson Ridge that was approved by the Carbon County Commission in 1999 but never got off the ground may be returning under a new company.

Terra Moya Aqua Global Wind, a renewable-resource energy company, originally received a conditional-use permit from the county 14 years ago. The Simpson Ridge project never happened, but Mike Kelly, attorney for the commission, said during Tuesday’s board meeting that the permit issued back then is still good.

The permit has apparently been passed from TMA to another company, Polstream USA, which is interested in developing the project, Kelly said. An obstacle, he said, is that Simpson Ridge, which is just east of Rawlins, is in the middle of a core sage grouse area.

Kelly also noted that developers of wind projects with fewer than 30 turbines don’t have to go through the Industrial Siting Council, a state board, Kelly said.

Commissioner Leo Chapman asked if there was anything in the 1999 permit that would allow the commission to stop the project now. He clarified that he did not necessarily want to stop the project, but he wanted to know.

Sid Fox, director of Carbon County Planning and Development, said essentially if the permit had been granted a few years ago, it would be nontransferrable and the project would have had to start construction within two years of obtaining the permit. In 1999, county codes were silent on those issues.

“Both the conditional-use permit and building permit are very generic,” Fox said.

Kelly said the company would likely have to work with the Bureau of Land Management, which has its own deadlines for such permits, and need to establish transmission lines to the site.

“The thing I’m concerned about is we’re in sage grouse core, and we should take that very seriously,” Chapman said.

Fox requested Polstream USA meet with the Carbon County Planning and Zoning Commission during its meeting July 1. The Carbon County Commission meets the next day, and commissioners said they would try to get the company on their agenda for July 2.

“Let’s not speculate too much because we don’t have a development plan,” Fox said.