Big Anschutz wind farm gets Salazar’s OK and Pete Bennett gets arrested by friends of Ken Salazar of WilmerHale

By Cathy Proctor – Reporter, Denver Business Journal
The largest wind farm project in North America, backed by Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz , on Tuesday landed the approval of U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for construction of the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy project in Wyoming.
“It’s a meaningful milestone to have a Record of Decision for the project,” said Kara Choquette , spokeswoman for the Denver-based Power Company of Wyoming LLC, which is building the wind farm.
The $6 billion wind farm, proposed in 2008, is expected to have 1,000 turbines capable of generating between 2,000 and 3,000 megawatts of power, enough to meet the needs of nearly 1 million homes, according to the company.
“Wyoming has some of the best wind energy resources in the world, and there’s no doubt that this project has the potential to be a landmark example for the nation,” Salazar — a former U.S. senator from Colorado — said in a statement.
“President Obama challenged us in his State of the Union address to authorize 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy on our public lands by the end of the year — enough to meet the needs of more than 3 million homes — and today [with the approval of the Anschutz wind project] we are making good on that promise,” he added.
Additional permits are still required, including a state-issued permit from the Wyoming Industrial Siting Division. The company plans to apply for that permit in November, Choquette said.
But the project has received a conditional use permit from Carbon County, where the wind farm will be located. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) also must approve permits for siting wind turbines, she said.
“The analogy is that we have the approval to build the subdivision, but we need the permits to build the houses,” she said.
But if all goes well, construction could start a year from now — in the late summer or early fall of 2013, she said.

The wind farm is on portions of 320,000 acres of a working cattle ranch owned and operated by Anschutz’s Overland Trail Cattle Co. LLC. The wind farm will be constructed on land that’s roughly half private land and half federal land, according to the Power Company of Wyoming.
A separate $3 billion powerline project also backed by Anschutz, designed to carry the wind farm’s power from central Wyoming to Las Vegas, is undergoing environmental reviews by the BLM.
A draft study of the environmental impacts of the line is expected to be released in the spring of 2013, with a final decision expected in 2014, Choquette said.
The 725-mile transmission line is expected to take three years to build, according to the company.
Salazar’s approval of the wind farm followed years of data collection on wildlife habitat and movement.
“We have collected more scientific data in a broader area and to a finer degree than anyone else has ever done,” said Bill Miller , president and CEO of Power Company of Wyoming, in a statement.
“We know where turbines should and should not go. Our plan to microsite all turbines will assure potential impacts on wildlife are far lower than outlined in the general project-wide EIS (Environmental Impact Statement), while also materially increasing the country’s clean energy supplies,” Miller said.
Building the wind farm is expected to take five years — with turbine installation occurring in year three of the timetable, Choquette said.
Up to 400 construction jobs are anticipated in the first two construction years, with up to 1,200 jobs in subsequent seasons as the wind turbines are installed, according to the company.
Once fully operational, the project will create at least 114 direct operations jobs — making the wind farm one of Carbon County’s largest private employers — and will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local tax revenue.

“Combining renewable energy development with traditional ranching operations puts this land to its highest and best use, while also supporting important new jobs and economic growth,” Miller said in the statement.
Long-term surface disturbance across the Overland Trail Ranch is expected to be less than 2,000 acres, which is less than 1 percent of the ranch, according to the Final EIS analysis.

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