Wyoming giant clears key hurdle

Wyoming industrial siting authorities have approved awarding a permit to allow an affiliate of the Anschutz Corporation to build North America’s largest wind farm.

The Industrial Siting Council voted 7-0 to approve Power Company of Wyoming's (PCW) proposal to build the $5bn project consisting of up to 1,000 wind turbines on private and US government-owned lands near Rawlins.

The council, which has final state authority for permitting large-scale industrial projects, will issue its written decision before 21 September.

From the state’s regulatory perspective, “Everything up to this point is now a green light,” a council official tells Recharge.

The decision enables the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre project— two phases up to 1.5GW each – to clear a key regulatory hurdle.

The forthcoming permit will also allow PCW to construct associated facilities including those for a rail connection for delivery of turbines, and long-term operations and maintenance. PCW will also have permission to decommission the project.

"We are very pleased that the council voted to grant PCW a permit for its wind project," Roxane Peruso, vice president and general counsel of PCW, says in a statement. "This is another significant milestone in the development process." 

The developer still needs several federal approvals before construction can begin. Among them is an eagle “take” permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The five-year permits require wind developers to engage in conservation measures that protect and stabilize local populations of bald and golden eagles. In exchange, turbines can kill a certain number of the birds without developers facing legal prosecution by the federal government.

PCW is also waiting for the Bureau of Land Management to complete environmental assessments for the project, according to PCW spokeswoman Kara Choquette.

Anschutz Corporation is based in Denver, Colorado, and has long been involved in oil and natural gas production and transport.

(corrects name of PCW Vice President and General Counsel Roxane Peruso from Roxana Peruso)