A pair of Wyoming meetings will wrangle with the issues surrounding what could become one of the world’s largest wind farms.
The Bureau of Land Management is hosting meetings in Saratoga and Rawlins, the two communities that would be most affected by the arrival of the massive wind farm. The public scoping meetings, according to the BLM, will provide an opportunity for the public and interested parties to ask BLM specialists questions, view maps and posters detailing the site-specific phases of the Chokecherry/Sierra Madre (CCSM) project and file formal written comments.
The wind farm received a Record of Decision from the U.S. Department of the Interior last October, but even the Final Environmental Impact Statement left out many details yet to be discussed.
“The CCSM Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision amended the Rawlins Resource Management Plan to allow for wind development, but did not identify individual turbine locations,” the BLM stated in a release. “Subsequent tiered environmental assessments (EAs) are needed to analyze site-specific issues, such as the number and layout of the wind turbines to address migratory bird and eagle avoidance and minimization.”
The Power Company of Wyoming LLC, the company that aims to put the $4-$6 billion project in the ground, claims the footprint of the two farms would take up only about 2,000 acres of land out of a 320,000-acre ranch owned partly by its parent company. The 1,000-mill farm 10 miles south of Rawlins would be capable of generating enough electricity to power a million homes, but would be dependent on new transmission to get the electricity to the grid.
Cheyenne-based Author C.J. Box has property near Saratoga, and he released a book in 2011 that treated issues surrounding the wind industry. As a former reporter, Box tends to build his thriller novels around real-world issues. In a 2012 interview with the Business Report, Box said his opinion on wind energy changed through the course of writing that novel.
“I kind of started the book much more in favor of it than when I finished it,” Box said. He recalled he had once talked to a Wyoming wind farm manager who told him in passing that only 10-15 percent of wind energy makes it to the grid “because people that controlled the grid didn’t need it.”
Box did not respond to queries for comment prior to press time.
The two public meetings will both be held from 4-7 p.m. on separate days: on Sept. 23 at the Platte Valley Community Center, 210 W. Elm Ave. in Saratoga and Sept. 24 at the Depot, 400 W. Front St. in Rawlins.
For concerned parties unable to attend either meeting, public comment will be accepted through Oct. 9 via email at BLM_WY_PCW_windfarm@blm.gov (please include “CCSM EA Scoping” in the subject line). Comments may also be faxed to (307) 328-4224 or mailed to the Bureau of Land Management, Rawlins Field Office, CCSM EA Scoping, 1300 N. Third St., P.O. Box 2407, Rawlins, WY 82301.
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