There are new wind projects being slated to come to northern Carbon County that will have impact on several municipalities.
The Lucky Star Wind Energy Project (Lucky Star) will be operating on 78,292 acres, mostly owned by two privately owned ranches; Medicine Bow River Ranch and Lookout Ranch. The project will also use land from federal and state parcels.
Two Rivers Wind Energy Project (Two Rivers) will be on 19,547 acres. This project will be on land held by privately owned ranches, federal and state land.
Both projects will be near the towns of Medicine Bow in Carbon County and Rock River in Albany County.
These new wind projects are owned by BluEarth Renewables, a company based in Calgary, Canada founded in 2010. The company’s first projects were centered on hydro power in Canada. In 2018 the company entered the U.S. market developing wind projects in Minnesota and Wyoming.
The Lucky Star team has been working on permitting and approvals since 2018. In 2020 construction will begin and is scheduled to be completed by 2022.
Commercial operations will commence at the of end of 2022. The estimated cost of construction is estimated at $650 million. The estimated local and state sales taxes are expected to generate $27 million. The estimated lifetime property tax is estimated to bring in $48 million. The wind energy production tax over a 30 year project life will be $60 million.
Lucky Star is estimated to bring in 250 construction jobs along with 14 jobs in operations and maintenance. Lucky Star will have up to 500 megawatts (MW) generation capacity. There will be up to 200 wind turbine generators with a 2.5 MW model. Two substations are expected to be built, along with access roads, a collection system and overhead transmission lines.
Two Rivers is expected to have 58 wind turbines on Two Rivers Ranch and 19 wind turbines on Medicine Bow River Ranch. Two Rivers is a smaller project in size, but still substantial. The cost of construction is $364 million, generating $15 million in local and state sales taxes. The lifetime property tax will be around $30 million. The wind production tax over the estimated 30 year project life will be $30 million.
An estimated 170 construction jobs will be created along with 10 operations and maintenance workers.
For both projects, the average monthly wage will be $3,800 for construction workers and average monthly for operations personnel will be $3,600.
On Aug. 13, municipalities expecting to be impacted by these projects met at 3 p.m. at the Medicine Bow Community center in Medicine Bow.
The purpose of the meeting was to generate a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on impact funds needed by the different municipalities effected by the two projects from BluEarth Renewables. The MOU would go before the Industrial Siting Council (ISC) in October.
Carbon County Commissioner Chairman John Johnson presided over the meeting of entities from Carbon County and Albany County.
Representatives from Elk Mountain, Hanna, Medicine Bow, Rawlins and Saratoga in Carbon County and spokespeople from Rock River and Laramie in Albany County were involved in hammering out the MOU.
Gwynn Bartlett, Carbon County Clerk, said the county was asking for $1,633,640 in impact funds.
Elk Mountain mayor Morgan Irene said his town was requesting $300,000.
Hanna mayor Lois Buchanan started off by requesting $283,000.
Medicine Bow council member Sharon Biamon told the group the town was requesting $3,732,000.
Rawlins city manager Scott Hannum told the attendees his city was requesting $192,765.
Saratoga police officer Tyler Christensen requested $449,580 for his municipality.
Albany County requested $155,600.
Laramie said their sum was $662,833.
Rock River wanted $2,150,00 for funds to offset the impact to their community.
The total at the end of the first round of talking came to $10,259,477.
“Are we comfortable with everyone’s request?” Johnson asked.
He told the Medicine Bow group they needed to combine their request into one. The town had treated Two Rivers and Lucky Star as different projects instead of the combination the other entities had done.
Irene told Biamon Medicine Bow was asking for a lot of money.
“It is a lot of money, but if you look around town, we are inundated with workers and they keep in more and more,” Biamon said. “We have three new trailer courts getting fuller and fuller every day. If you are here in the afternoon on our streets, you can’t see for all the dust.”
Johnson said when he goes before ISC this time, he will have a list on how all the money has been spent for past projects.
Several attendees pointed out that the communities had been very responsible in requests.
Johnson said he didn’t doubt the impact was happening. He said Carbon County Sheriff Archie Roybal had told him he had 662 calls in one month.
“That is a true reflection of an impact,” Johnson said.
Assistant town clerk for Medicine Bow Kenda Colman said the dust hanging over the town and water meters having to be dug every day were examples of the impact on the town.
“We have a haze, daily,” Colman pointed.
Elk Mountain had been requesting $120,000 for the fire department, but Carbon County said they could put it under their impact. Elk Mountain revised its figure to $180,000.
“With the Gateway West project, we didn’t know so many trucks would be using our roads and we really have been hit hard,” Buchanan said. “We didn’t ask nearly enough for that.”
Hanna treasurer Pam Paulson asked Biamon if Medicine Bow would consider dropping $150,000 so their town could go to a total of $433,000.
Biamon said Medicine Bow could honor that request and took off $150,000.
Albany County came back with serious cuts to their sum. Albany County had Rock River reduce to $1,615,000. The total for all Albany County came to $3,559,000.
Medicine Bow’s request at the end of the discussion came to $3,582,000.
There were no more cuts to come from any other municipality.
The group approved the monies requested by all the entities.
Although the impact funds requested by the towns were put in the MOU, a few attendees worried Medicine Bow was asking for too much.
“I wish the Industrial Siting Council would come here to Medicine Bow to see for themselves what is happening here,” Colman said. “Then they would see the real impact this town has had.”
“They should have their meeting here,” Biamon agreed.
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