With the potential to generate 2,000-3,000 megawatts of clean energy, the project will ensure a reliable, cost-effective supply of renewable electricity that’s unmatched in the West.
This output will help America reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, diversify energy sources and meet growing demand for renewable energy resources.
At the same time, the wind farm project will generate hundreds of good jobs, millions of dollars in tax revenue and other economic benefits for Carbon County. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2011 or 2012.
Located entirely in Carbon County, Wyoming, the wind project spans a combination of private lands owned by The Overland Trail Cattle Company LLC and federal lands managed by the BLM.
What benefits will the project bring?
The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project will have the wind turbines and electric infrastructure necessary to reliably and cost-effectively generate between 2,000 and 3,000 megawatts of clean, sustainable electricity.
It is situated on land that has some of the best winds in the state and in the country. The project area has Class 6 and 7 winds, which are the highest wind classes. While a final turbine model has yet to be selected, assuming a minimum of 1,000 2-MW turbines are installed, the project would produce enough electricity to power approximately 600,000 homes per year.
In addition, this wind project will:
* Provide zero-fuel-cost, zero-emissions electricity.
* Support national and regional renewable energy goals, such as state-mandated Renewable Portfolio Standards and greenhouse-gas reduction targets.
* Capture and leverage natural resources wisely and responsibly.
* Create thousands of construction jobs and an estimated 114 permanent operations and maintenance jobs.
* Contribute millions in property taxes and sales and use taxes, among other economic benefits.
PCW begins sage-grouse monitoring program as part of comprehensive wildlife conservation plan
Continuing to advance the implementation of its wildlife conservation plan, Power Company of Wyoming LLC this week began a significant multi-year greater sage-grouse monitoring program at its wind power project site.
Forty female sage-grouse on The Overland Trail Cattle Company ranch are being tagged with lightweight GPS devices that will provide scientific data and insight into seasonal habitat uses by the species.
The tagged sage-grouse will come from both within and outside of the proposed development area for the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project. Seasonal usage in the early stages of the monitoring effort will serve as a pre-development baseline to which future use of the wind development area by sage-grouse can be compared.
Designed by expert wildlife biologists at SWCA Environmental Consultants, the tagging and monitoring program uses proven capture techniques, established industry protocols, and GPS technology successfully deployed in other state wildlife programs. It is just one element of a comprehensive wildlife conservation plan that PCW and TOTCO have submitted to state and federal agencies to guide conservation measures accommodating ongoing ranching/agricultural operations and wind development.
“Sage-grouse are concentrated near leks in the spring, so now is the best and least disruptive time to begin our ongoing monitoring program,” said Garry Miller, PCW’s director of land and environmental affairs. “The important data we’ll gather in year one will help us begin to understand patterns of habitat use and future trends in mortality, nest success, recruitment, migration and other factors within the population, over the next decade.”
The tiny GPS tags weigh the equivalent of five nickels and a penny, have a mini photovoltaic cell to recharge internal batteries for up to 5 years, can be quickly deployed with minimal stress to the birds, and are designed to minimize visibility to predators. They record altitude, heading and speed that identify migratory pathways and overall use of the landscape.
The valuable scientific data that the tags gather from each sage-grouse each day will be relayed via satellite to the biologist team. Then, biologists will complete a variety of standard statistical and spatial analyses to, among other goals:
* Identify the factors that determine use of an area by sage-grouse.
* Help determine locations for additional conservation and habitat improvement projects.
* Monitor the success of conservation and habitat improvement projects.
* Demonstrate the relative use of the wind development areas to enable a better understanding of how grouse in the assessment area and populations as a whole respond following wind project development.
“Coupled with our conservation measures, this solid, science-based monitoring program will ensure we’re achieving our goal of a net conservation benefit to sage-grouse,” Miller said.
Besides the monitoring program, PCW and TOTCO have other wildlife conservation efforts under way as part of their overall environmental commitment, including:
* Installing dozens of bird diverters on the guy wires for all new meteorological towers, which are located on the ranch to gather vital data about the wind resources. Diverters are intended to reduce the potential risk of collision and avian mortality.
* Marking fences across the ranch to reduce the potential risk of sage-grouse mortality.
* Identifying fences across the ranch to be moved or eliminated altogether.
* Identifying ranch roads to be closed and reclaimed.
* Designing metal-mesh bird ladders to be built and installed in stock tanks across the ranch, making it easier for sage-grouse or other species to obtain drinking water while also reducing the risk of drowning.
PCW and TOTCO create significant wildlife conservation plan
In line with its overall commitment to environmental protection, wind energy developer Power Company of Wyoming LLC has drafted and proposes to enter into a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances among PCW, The Overland Trail Cattle Company, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and Wyoming Game and Fish Department, which incorporates a comprehensive Conservation Plan.
The CCAA and Conservation Plan commit PCW and The Overland Trail Cattle Company to implementing significant, long-term conservation measures on the 311,000-acre Overland Trail Ranch, which consists of a checkerboard of federal and non-federal lands.
The CCAA and Conservation Plan will guide conservation measures accommodating ongoing ranching and agricultural operations, including cattle grazing, and developing the proposed Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project, while providing a net conservation benefit to the Greater Sage-Grouse, Northern Leopard Frog and Wyoming Pocket Gopher.
The draft plan identifies threats and conservation measures to achieve a landscape-scale, integrated conservation approach for these species across the mix of land ownerships.
“Power Company of Wyoming LLC intends to make its wind power project a best-practice example of responsible renewable energy development,” said Bill Miller, President and CEO. “Our investments of time, resources and expertise have yielded a comprehensive, science-based plan that will conserve the area’s Sage-Grouse and other species while allowing our wind energy project to move forward.”
The Conservation Plan complies with applicable state and federal rules and regulations, including Wyoming’s Stipulations for Development in Core Sage-Grouse Population Areas. These stipulations say that development may occur providing it will “not cause declines in Sage-Grouse populations.” The plan also shows that development can be done consistent with conserving Sage-Grouse and that PCW can reduce or eliminate threats through science-based conservation measures.
The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project is a 1,000-turbine wind farm to be located in Carbon County, Wyoming, on about 98,500 acres of the Overland Trail Ranch. Although renewable energy development is proposed on a portion of the ranch, it will result in less than 5 percent permanent disturbance, leaving more than 95 percent of the existing vegetation communities intact and dedicated primarily to wildlife management and conservation.
With the potential to generate 2,000-3,000 megawatts of clean energy, the wind project will ensure a reliable, cost-effective supply of renewable electricity and will generate hundreds of good jobs, millions of dollars in tax revenue and other economic benefits to Carbon County and Wyoming.
Power Company of Wyoming LLC is a wholly owned affiliate of The Anschutz Corporation, a privately held company based in Denver. Through its affiliates, The Anschutz Corporation has been actively involved in the West for more than 70 years in the field of natural resource development. The Anschutz Corporation’s activity and investments in the energy field reflect a strong commitment to responsibly developing and managing natural resources.