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Firm studying Scofield area as wind farm site

Carbon County officials have approved a conditional use permit for EDP Renewables-Castle Valley Wind Farm to erect the first of two temporary meteorological or “met” towers near Scofield. Approval of the permit follows a favorable recommendation by the county planning commission, and a public hearing held during the regular commission meeting of Dec. 20. No comments were received at the public hearing.

Director of Carbon County Building, Zoning, and Planning Todd Thorne told the commissioners the purpose of the towers is to gauge the wind resource and assess the economic viability of the site for a multimillion dollar wind farm. The first 300 foot met tower will be located due east of the Town of Scofield, near the junction of the Eagle Canyon Road and the Long Valley Road, and is expected to be standing by the end of the year. Another tower is planned for 2018. The met towers measure and collect data related to wind speeds at different heights using anemometers and other instruments. The data may be collected for up to four years.

EDP Renewables is a wind and solar energy company based in Houston, Texas and operating in locations around the world. The company entered the U.S. market in 2007 with the acquisition of Horizon Wind Energy, and has since doubled its wind-power production.

EDP Renewables North America develops and owns wind farms that generate electricity for customers in the United States and Canada. It has more than 2,300 turbines in operation at 41 wind farms in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The company also has two solar power generating facilities operating in California.

Along with Thorne, EDPR NA Senior Manager of Project Development Aron Branam, and Project Developer Virgina Wiseman outlined the proposed project for the commission. Branam said the facility that may be built if the location proves to be economically viable, is being contemplated as an 80 megawatt facility with 20-22 turbines.

Branam advised this type of facility as a rule of thumb, cost about a million dollars per megawatt. But he said, “This site is a little bit more challenging so you’re probably going to see an increase in price due to the topography and the accessibility of the site, so we might be approaching a $100 million facility here.”

Branam noted EDPR NA hasn’t sought any tax incentive from the county, but would be interested in discussing ways to decrease the tax burden. He said if there aren’t any incentives at the county level, “We will proceed with the project either way.” The Castle Valley Wind Farm will receive a Federal Production Tax Credit of approximately $23 per megawatt hour of clean energy produced through 2020.

“The benefits to Carbon County includes the tax revenue, which benefits all county residents, direct payments to land owners for hosting the facility, and benefits that accrue during the construction period,” Branam continued. After construction the facility would employ between three and nine individuals to operate the site with a pay range of $55,000 to $90,000.