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Permitting for wind energy project moves ahead

The Albany County Board of Commissioners declared the proposed Rock Creek Wind Energy Project application complete during a meeting Tuesday evening and scheduled a public hearing on the project for 9:30 a.m. Dec. 7.

Chicago-based Invenergy is proposing the 590-megawatt project on mostly private land about 25 miles north of Laramie between Interstate 80 and Rock River. Most of the project, about 37,000 acres, would be located in Albany County, with about 6,000 acres in Carbon County.

Albany County Planner David Gertsch said Invenergy had provided all required documents in its application, including a draft socioeconomic study.

Chase Marston, the project’s lead developer, said the draft study was very close to being in final form.

“We aren’t altering it very much between now and the submittal for the Industrial Siting permit, which is in early December,” he said. “It’s fairly well fleshed-out.”

Permitting for connection lines will continue next year, with the goal of beginning construction in 2023 and starting operation by the end of 2024.

Invenergy also built the Ekola Flats and TB Flats projects north of Medicine Bow, which are now owned by PacifiCorp. Similarly, Invenergy would transfer ownership of the Rock Creek project to a Wyoming utility.

In a presentation to the Albany County Planning and Zoning Commission in June, Marston said the project would require about 350 construction jobs and offer 20-30 full-time operational jobs. He estimated it would generate $190 million in state and local tax revenue during its lifetime.

The project calls for 106 turbines that would be close to 600 feet tall, depending on the model chosen.

Six to eight turbines would sit on state land, and Invenergy is also seeking permission from the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments for that portion of the project.

The Rock Creek project would consist of two separate projects, Rock Creek I and Rock Creek II. They would be visibly contiguous, but one would connect to the Foote Creek Substation about 5 miles away while the other would connect to the Aeolus Substation via a 40-mile line.

Marston said the project would be located in an area with few residences and sit amid existing wind projects. The High Plains, McFadden Ridge and Foote Creek wind projects are located north and west of the area.

“We do recognize that wind turbines are going to be very visible. There’s no way around that,” Marston said. “We have selected a site that’s nestled within three existing wind projects.”

He said the view from neighboring highways wouldn’t be substantially different than it is already.

“That’s one of the reasons we’re really excited about it,” he said. “We think the visual impact will be relatively lessened.”

Most of the private land is owned by the Wheatland Irrigation District, and there aren’t any homes within the project boundary.