For some the wind is a source of humor. Some residents talk about how a walk on a windy day is like riding a motorcycle on the interstate.
But for others, it can be a source of cash. Both Carbon and Uinta Counties have wind farm developments operational. For example, Carbon County has nine wind farms comprising a total of 492 turbines. The county’s commissioners also approved plans for a 1,000-turbine wind farm.
In Sweetwater County, two companies are looking to exploit the area’s wind for electricity and profit. The first is Teton Wind Energy, which is known for its attempts to place a wind farm on White Mountain. That proposed wind facility has ranged in size from 36 turbines to its most recent count of 240 turbines. The total amount of land needed for the project would be 13,145 acres.
Carol Montgomery, a project manager with the Bureau of Land Management, said the environmental assessment for the White Mountain Wind Farm project is complete, however has not been signed. According to the BLM’s spring 2013 NEPA project sheet, the assessment is on hold, pending an avian and bat protection plan approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. The document states the plan’s development and implementation are underway.
The sheet also states the fish and wildlife services are reviewing a scaled down, 54-unit facility.
The second project is a 79-turbine facility proposed by EDF Renewable Energy, under the Evergreen Wind Power Partners company it purchased. The wind farm would be located near Quaking Aspen Mountain and comprise a total of 5,157 acres of land.
According to the project sheet, the project has undergone recent changes in response to core Sage Grouse areas identified by the state, which resulted in 41 turbines being removed from original project guidelines.
Montgomery said both projects are still several years away from construction. In regards to White Mountain Wind Farm, Montgomery said the project has slowed due to national politics.
“They’re waiting to see what happens with wind energy tax credits,” Montgomery said.
The credits, which are set to expire Dec. 31, provide tax breaks to wind facilities. Without those tax credits, the costs associated with those project would increase. Montgomery said EDF’s project was on hold in order to wait for the Gateway West Transmission Line.
The line, proposed by both Rocky Mountain Power and Idaho Power, will establish 1,000 miles of transmission line from Glenrock to Melba, Idaho. The line will pass north of Green River and Rock Springs and would provide additional electricity capacity. The BLM released its final environmental impact statement for Gateway West April 26.