Work Begins on the Chokecherry – Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project

The state of Wyoming is soon going to be doubling the number of wind turbines generating electricity from wind power. And the new turbines will all be part of a single wind power project known as the Chokecherry – Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project.

Construction is expected to begin towards the end of 2014 with the project producing power by 2019. At this stage it has not been announced what the capacity of the wind project will be but with the project boasting 1,000 wind turbines it is expected that it will produce somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 megawatts.

The estimated cost of the project will be between $4 billion and $6 billion. The turbines will be placed on both private land and federal land on virtually an even 50-50 split.

The project will be located near Rawlins in Carbon County and the developer in Power Co. of Wyoming. With all of the necessary federal permits taken care of and

Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Project Map

the project passing before the Industrial Siting Council the project must now go through the process of analysing each individual site where each turbine will be located.

Each turbine must be individually approved by the federal Bureau of Land Management, whose record of decision in favor of the project is basically an approval of an overall plan, not specific details.

“What we’re doing now is developing building plans for each turbine — or house,” Miller, the company’s vice president of land and environmental affairs, said in April. “They will be submitted to the BLM and county for approval and final review.”

The Project Is Already Five Years Old

The planning process for the project began in 2008 with a conceptual plan being developed for the 1,000 wind turbines of the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre project. At that time application for the first of the government permits was made. The planning process which involves mapping out the components of the wind farm lasted for 4 years, finishing in late 2012.

The next phase of the project involved the work of scientists hired by the Power Co. of Wyoming to study the site to ensure the construction of a wind farm would not cause any cultural or environmental problems. A team of engineers must then determine whether road access and drainage issues have been properly addressed. The effects on animal and vegetable habitat also had to be studied.

The results of all of the studies and analysis must be documented and lodged with the BLM for final approval.

With the expected commissioning date taking place in 2019 it is expected that the planning and development process of this project will have spanned 11 years.

Over 1,00 Jobs Will Be Created

The project is expected to generate 300-400 construction jobs during the first 2 years of construction. That number will increase to over 1,200 job in subsequent years as the wind turbines are installed. When the project becomes fully operational it will create around 114 jobs on an ongoing basis. This will make the project one of Carbon County’s largest employers. The tax revenue that will be generated by the project will run into the hundreds of millions.

This wind project will join two other large wind farms that are supplying wind generated electricity to the state of Wyoming in the form of the Dunlap Wind Farm and the Simpson Ridge Wind Farm.

To read more about the project the Final EIS is available on the BLM website at http://www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/info/NEPA/documents/rfo/Chokecherry.html

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