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County permits on hold for wind farm projects, pending additional information

CARBON COUNTY – Lingering in the permitting process, two wind farm projects are slated for review by the Carbon County Commission in mid October.

Dubbed Lucky Star and Two Rivers, the wind farm projects were proposed by BluEarth Renewables, a Canada-based power producer, and scheduled to be built on private and federal land straddling the line between Carbon and Albany counties.

BluEarth’s request for conditional use permits in Carbon County were tabled at the commission’s Sept. 17 meeting, pending a request for additional information, Carbon County Planning and Zoning Director Sid Fox said.

“The board (of commissioners) requested a status update on the projects’ federal application, additional information on the transmission line capacity and information on an agreement with Anadarko regarding surface development,” Fox said. “The applicant was given 30 days at the (commission’s) Sept. 3 meeting to put the information together.”

According to the conditional use permit request, the Lucky Star wind farm would encompass about 79,800 acres total with about 15,800 acres in Carbon County and is slated to break ground in 2022. The Two Rivers project would be about 20,400 acres total with about 15,900 acres in Carbon County and is slated to break ground in 2021.

Fox said both projects were proposed for location on a mix of private and BLM land, but it was not immediately clear what percentage would be on private vs. federal land.

BluEarth could not be reached for comment.

While the state does not require entities to file for permits at multiple agencies simultaneously, Fox said it can be beneficial for the commission to consider all of the projects’ applications.

“They can be independent processes, but they both inform the other,” he said. “I think the board is prudent in trying to include as much information in their permit decision as possible.”

Commissioner Sue Jones said the BLM permits would play a key role in the viability of the the wind farm projects.

“I think it’s fairly obvious we are in support of the project as long as they go through all proper processes,” Jones said. “It’s pretty critical they have their application in with the BLM.”

Additionally, the commission requested BluEarth contact PacifiCorp, an electric power company, to ensure their transmission lines were compatible with the proposed wind farms’ output. Lastly, the commission asked BluEarth to address a letter submitted by Anadarko, which owns a significant amount of subsurface mineral rights in Carbon County, requesting BluEarth work with the company regarding site surface development.

“Those were the only concerns we had,” Jones said.

BLM Wyoming Office Public Information Officer Brad Purdy said BluEarth had not submitted an application for Lucky Star or Two Rivers as of press time Friday.

“We are aware those projects are out there,” Purdy said. “But, no one has started the application process in regards to them.”

The County Commission is scheduled to review the projects again Oct. 15 during its regular meeting.