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Wasatch Wind seeks permit extension for proposed Glenrock wind farm

The Utah-based wind developer behind a controversial wind farm near Glenrock is requesting an extension of its state permit.

Wasatch Wind faced a May 18 deadline to demonstrate that it has the financial ability to build the 46-turbine Pioneer Wind Park. The Park City, Utah, company was given until July to break ground on the project.

But in a May 20 letter to the state Industrial Siting Council, the company argued that consistent legal challenges from opponents had hindered the project’s ability to meet the state-imposed deadlines.

Wasatch requested that the financial deadline be extended to April 2015 and the work deadline be pushed back to August 2015.

The Industrial Siting Council has yet to rule on the request.

The Northern Laramie Range Alliance, a landowners group, has challenged the project. It has made its case to the Wyoming Supreme Court, the Federal Electricity Regulatory Commission and the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Wasatch Wind prevailed in each instance. The legal proceedings caused Wasatch’s initial power purchase agreement with Rocky Mountain Power to lapse. The two parties signed a second agreement in April after a year of contentious negotiations.

The agreement is evidence that Wasatch has the financial ability to complete the project, Wasatch CEO Christine Mikell wrote in letter to the Industrial Siting Council.

“The opponents to the project have attempted to stymie Wasatch Wind’s efforts to succeed with the project as well as obtain a (purchase power agreement), but notably have not succeeded on any issue or in any forum,” Mikell wrote.

She argued that the legal proceedings had consumed the time the company needed to fulfill the terms of the state permit.

“Fairness and equity require that the deadline be extended to allow the project to be completed,” the letter states.

The extension, if approved, would be the second granted to the project by the council. Wasatch’s original financial partner, Edison Mission Energy, filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

The council then extended the company’s initial permit, giving Wasatch until May of this year to demonstrate its financial ability.

The Northern Laramie Range Alliance questioned Wasatch’s statement that the project is financially viable.

“We have seen no evidence that Wasatch has been able to find reliable financing for this project,” said Ken Lay, a member of the alliance. “The backer they advanced to the Industrial Siting Council went bankrupt, and they have yet to identify any new sources of financing.”

Luke Esch, the Industrial Siting Division administrator, could not be reached for comment.

A public hearing on the extension has been scheduled for July 14 in Douglas.