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City Council discusses wind energy, special permits  

Credit:  By Jordan Achs | Laramie Boomerang | www.laramieboomerang.com ~~

Not every special event or alcohol permit application is granted a permit, but every applicant has to pay a permit fee.

The Laramie City Council held a work session Tuesday to discuss its options for refunding special event and alcohol permits, and also listened to a presentation about potential wind energy projects coming to Albany County.

Members of City Council, including Bryan Shuster, wanted to have a work session to draft a way for special event and alcohol permit refunds to be allowed in certain instances – but Wyoming statute made it hard to do so.

“By state statute and local code, once we’ve issued a permit, we may not refund the fees associated with that permit,” Laramie City Clerk Nancy Bartholomew said.

Bartholomew added in the rare instance a refund is granted, the request would have to be received before the required 14-day period detailed in the permit application. In addition, Bartholomew said the City Clerk’s office will keep $25 in administrative fees to accommodate the staff time needed across multiple departments to process the permit request.

“We haven’t had anything written into code to allow us to issue any type of refund,” Bartholomew said. “This would give us in the clerk’s office and city manager’s office guidelines as far as what our policy would be. We could make it available to public, so they know when they could get refund and what that would involve.”

Bartholomew added the city does offer an option to transfer a permit, where the applicant can use the same permit location and fee but on a different day, which avoids breaking state statute on refunds while still giving businesses the opportunity to use the funds they paid for the permit.

Wind Energy Project in Albany County

A representative from BluEarth Renewables presented the City Council with preliminary plans for two new wind projects slated for construction in parts of Albany County and Carbon County. Although the projects aren’t slated to start for a few years, Paul Martin, president of Intermountain Wind and consultant for BluEarth, said they could have some significant impacts on Laramie and the county.

Martin said BluEarth’s Two River’s Ranch project, a 19,000-acre wind farm slated for construction in 2020, is estimated to bring an estimated 169 construction jobs to the area.

“Most likely the road and foundations and things like that will be satisfied by local road construction companies,” Martin said. “I don’t think 169 [jobs] is the cap there. That’s an estimate that has moved around a little bit.”

Martin added he expects “there’s likely to be overlap” with many of the same workers for the subsequent Lucky Star wind energy project also close to Rock River, which won’t start until 2022 at the earliest due to pending environmental studies. However, Martin said the workers will be a mix of local contractors and out-of-state companies.

“Construction of this project will probably be about 12 months, although it may end up getting stretched out more than that,” Martin said. “Obviously, you’ll see a big influx of jobs during the construction period, and then that diminishes substantially to the operations when you’ve got fewer folks there permanently.”

Both projects are located outside of Medicine Bow and Rock River on a mix of public and private land. However, Martin said he expects the influx of construction workers to fill housing and bring business to Laramie as well.

“All of these [projects] will likely fill up the capacity in Rock River and Medicine Bow and that’s why we look at the housing capacity in Elk Mountain, Rawlins and Laramie,” Martin said. “My belief is you guys will be hosting a lot down here in Laramie. Your grocery stores will be the ones that supplies the vast majority of supplies.”

BluEarth plans to have a “competitive solicitation for contractors,” but Martin said he hopes to see some local companies submit successful bids.

“There are some local firms that have spent a lot of time supporting the wind industry and getting to know wind industry very well,” Martin said. “I think those guys will be very well positioned when the time comes.”

Following the presentation, the city council adjourned to an executive session regarding litigation.

Source:  By Jordan Achs | Laramie Boomerang | www.laramieboomerang.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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