Published on November 15th, 2019 | by Jake Richardson0
3 Gigawatt Wind Power Project In Wyoming Moves Closer To Approval
November 15th, 2019 by Jake Richardson
In October of this year, the BLM released an environmental assessment for adding more wind turbines to Wyoming’s Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project. BLM Rawlins Field Manager Dennis Carpenter, was quoted then in a BLM press release when he said, “The project fulfils many of the agency’s priorities, including sustainably developing energy resources, modernizing our infrastructure, increasing revenues and creating jobs in local communities while balancing protections for other resources in the project area.” Following the release of the BLM assessment, a 15-day public comment period commenced, and then closed on November 4.
The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project is slated to have a capacity of 3 gigawatts or 3,000 megawatts. A BLM web page says the project’s location is south of Rawlins, Wyoming on nearly 220,00 acres. It also states that if completed, the huge wind farm will be able to provide power to almost one million homes.
An NREL page indicates that this area does have plentiful wind, “One large area of exceptionally good wind energy potential occurs from near Rawlins eastward to Medicine Bow and the Laramie Mountains and southward along the Laramie Mountains divide to the Colorado border.”
If the huge Wyoming wind farm is completed, it will be the largest in the US. The company developing it is the Power Company of Wyoming LLC. The company’s Director of Communications is Kara Choquette; she answered some questions about the wind power project for CleanTechnica.
1. How long has the project been under development and how much further does it have to go to get to the green light?
The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project began wind testing and monitoring work in 2006 and filed the right-of-way application with the US Bureau of Land Management for wind energy development in 2008. After many years of careful and comprehensive environmental review, the project has received its county permit and state permit, both with unanimous votes of approval. It also has received the primary federal authorizations, with one piece of BLM site-specific environmental analysis underway and anticipated complete by the end of 2019. You can see our project milestone summary here.
2. The wind farm could have up to 1,000 wind turbines. What brand and model will they be?
We have not yet identified the turbine model/s or vendor/s that would be used. With the advances in turbine technology over the years, we now anticipate installing 896 turbines to provide 3,000 MW of nameplate capacity.
3. When there is adequate wind, about how many homes could the wind turbine farm power?
It’s always windy in south-central Wyoming! This site has NREL Class 5, 6, and 7 wind resources – the highest-quality onshore wind resources. We estimate about 1 million households.
4. The project will include technology for transmission. How long might it take to build this part of the project?
That’s not quite accurate. The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project is a 3,000 MW wind energy project located south of Rawlins, Wyoming, in Carbon County. This project is being developed and constructed by Power Company of Wyoming LLC. There are multiple transmission lines that go through the northern edge of the project site, providing options for transmission of CCSM Project electricity to western US renewable energy markets.
I think what you are likely referring to is the TransWest Express Transmission Project, under development by TransWest Express LLC. This is an interregional transmission system designed to efficiently connect renewable energy supply and demand across the Western Interconnection. This is a separate project with its own timeline and environmental review process that you can review here.
5. What is an estimated cost for the wind farm and transmission installation?
The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project is an approximately $5 billion investment in renewable energy generation. Again, a separate project – The TransWest Express Transmission Project is an approximately $3 billion investment in the western US power grid, designed to help make the grid stronger, more reliable, and able to deliver more renewables. It is a regional transmission network expansion project.
6. Are there target customers already lined up who will purchase the electricity?
We do not have specific commercial arrangements to discuss. The target market is utilities and other entities in western US states (like California, Arizona, and Nevada) that are highly populated and need utility-scale supplies of cost-competitive, highly reliable, and geographically diverse renewable energy that complements and adds value to their local wind and solar resources. Just like Wyoming can’t use all of the natural gas supplies available in the state or all of the coal supplies available in the state, Wyoming does not need all of the wind-generated electricity that can be produced in the state, so the goal is to export the wind-generated electricity to the markets that need it. Wyoming has a fairly low residential demand for electricity with a population of under 600,000.
7. About how many jobs will be created during the construction phase and how many permanent jobs will be required once the wind farm is operational?
The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project will create at least 114 operations and maintenance jobs – primarily wind turbine technicians. The wind energy project will also provide opportunities for existing businesses to benefit and to support the development of new businesses. The Carbon County Economic Development Corp estimates the CCSM Project would be one of the county’s largest non-governmental employers. The CCSM Project would also be one of the county’s largest taxpayers.
The number of construction jobs will range each month and each year depending on the different construction activities underway. A peak of 200 workers is anticipated in the first few years of construction, with a peak of 850 jobs in subsequent seasons.
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