The Saratoga Sun -

Student column: Wind farms to blow into Carbon County

 


The wind is blowing. Again. Here in Carbon County there is a lot of wind, and as many of you know, it is proposed that a wind farm be put in south of Rawlins. Known as the Chokecherry Wind Farm, it would produce electricity for about a million people and would generate about half a billion dollars in tax revenues over the next 20 years.

Wind energy is a great idea; however, the people in the Valley need to take a close look at how much we really benefit from this project. Though the wind farm is projected to provide electricity for a million people, all of those people live in California. Wyoming wouldn’t receive any of the electricity. The idea behind wind energy is great, but when we don’t get any of the electricity and our part of the county receives hardly any of tax revenue, certain aspects of this wind farm need to be considered before we jump into this. This project would bring in over half a billion dollars in tax revenues over the next 20 years, just not for us. The problem is that the wind farm would be built in District 1’s tax area. This means that pretty much all of the money from property taxes would go to Rawlins and CCSD No. 1. The rest of the county would only receive a small portion of the money. According to the Power Company of Wyoming, District No. 2 would only receive less than a million dollars of the $29 to $43 million in property taxes that would come in every year.

Even if wind energy isn’t for us, the project isn’t entirely bad. Wind energy is a great natural resource that we are not going to run out of. It causes less pollution than other forms energy such as coal. The location for this wind farm is ideal. It is out in the middle of nowhere in a location that would not hide the mountains. About half of it would be on private land, and the rest on public land that’s not being used. Why not put a power source on it?

Do you like birds? In the past there have been stories of birds flying into turbine blades. According to the Huffington Post, a New York newspaper, the Overland Trail Ranch has taken great measures to prevent this from happening. They have set up bird radars to track where birds such as eagles and other avians fly, to help decide where to place the turbines so it has little to no affect on our flying friends.

Looking for a job? The Chokecherry Wind Farm project would provide around 1,000 jobs during construction and more than 100 hundred permanent jobs, according to the Power Company of Wyoming. These jobs would range from a wide selection of construction jobs to turbine maintenance and other operation jobs, helping boost our economy.

However, where are the workers really going to be coming from? If they are locals then that’s great, but if the workers are outsourced, that’s not so great. If this power company already has workers to do the job, or if the workers are brought in from other states, then we don’t really benefit. If workers come from other places, where are they going to stay? If they live in the Valley, then more housing will have to go up. Apartments aren’t cheap to build and if the workers leave when the project is done, they will just become empty buildings. If workers do come in and live in the valley and have kids with them, then they will end up going to school in our school district, which as I mentioned earlier will receive extremely little tax revenue.

I’m not saying that I’m against wind energy or even this wind farm. I’m simply saying that the people of this community need to look into certain aspects of this project and ask some questions before everything is finalized. Maybe talk to the County Treasurer about distributing some tax money towards our community. This wind farm benefits a lot of people and is a great source of reliable energy, but there are still problems such as distribution of money and possible housing issues that need to be looked at, before we get something that doesn’t benefit the citizens of this Valley.

 

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