State officials decided Thursday that a wind developer will need to contribute $3.1 million to the governments of Rock River, Laramie and Albany County to offset the impact on public services created by a $1 billion wind project on the border of Albany and Carbon counties.
The project is expected to employ 400 workers during 2022, according to an application for an industrial development permit filed with the Department of Environmental Quality in July.
Rock River will receive $1.6 million, Laramie will receive $662,883 and Albany County will receive $885,600. Monthly payments are scheduled to begin April 2021 and be completed in July 2023.
Rock River had requested the “impact assistance” funding for water, sewer, roads, emergency services, social services, equipment and general governmental operations.
Both Laramie and Albany County plan to spend their funding on emergency services and roads, with the county also planning to use funding for general governmental operations.
The Department of Environmental Quality’s Industrial Siting Council ordered the payments this week, while also setting a number of conditions the project’s parent company, Canada-based BluEarth Renewables, will need to meet to be issued permits.
In a September letter to the company, Industrial Siting Division Administrator Brian Lovett highlighted a few deficiencies in BluEarth Renewables’s application, including the fact that the company doesn’t have a “purchase power agreement,” which would guarantee that an electrical company will purchase and transmit the energy produced from the wind farm.
As part of DEQ’s requirements for a permit to be issued, contractors on the project are required to create “procedures to foster local hiring,” including posting jobs with the local workforce center.
During 19 months of construction, the project should employ an average of 144 workers, though 80% of those workers are expected to be “non-local.”
Project backers are considering building a man-camp in Carbon County.
With some turbines being placed within a few miles of Bosler, the developer is expecting Albany County, not Carbon, will have the task of housing most non-local workers who aren’t staying in a man-camp.
“Because of the proximity of the Project site to Laramie and the existence of considerable temporary and rental housing in that city, it is anticipated that more workers will choose to live in Laramie” than Carbon County municipalities, according to the project application.
After the turbines are erected, the project will only employ 36 permanent employees.
From 2021-23, the project is expected to generate $52.1 million in sales and use taxes and $7.8 million in property taxes.
However, the state wind tax will provide just $2.56 million in revenue for the state’s general fund during the entire life of the project.
Ultimately, Albany County is expected to receive $35.78 million in cumulative tax revenue for the project. Developers have also proposed paying the county $5.6 million for impact assistance, with another $1.6 million going to Rock River and $800,000 going to the city of Laramie.
According to the project application, wind turbine components will be hauled from Cheyenne via Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 30, avoiding transport through Laramie.
The wind project could see up to 277 wind turbines constructed.
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