County Commissioners informed of new project
As Carbon County receives national, and international, attention for its embrace of wind energy, the influx of wind energy projects shows no sign of stopping.
On April 6, Michael Svedeman, Senior Manager of Development for Invenergy, appeared before the Board of Carbon County Commissioners (BOCCC) to discuss yet another upcoming wind project. Inevergy’s appearance before the county commissioners comes nearly two years since the Illinois-based company transferred ownership of the Ekola Flats and TB Flats projects to Rocky Mountain Power and their parent company, PacifiCorp.
“Those were projects that were developed by Invenergy,” said Svedeman. “We were in front of you guys, securing the permits, doing all that work and then ultimately those were transferred to PaciCorp where they built and will now own and operate it.”
The newest project for Invenergy, which is still in the early stages, is proposed for the McFadden area, primarily on land owned by Wheatland Irrigation District, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the State of Wyoming and a few private landowners.
The Rock Creek wind energy project, according to Svedeman, would be done in a manner similar to that of Ekola Flats and TB Flats.
“As the permitting starts, it will be two different phases; Rock Creek One, Rock Creek Two. One will be 190 megawatts, the other will be 400 megawatts but, if you are driving past them, they will be visually contiguous,” Svedeman said. “They will be built, permitted, owned and operated on the same schedule together.”
While the two previous projects started by Invenergy were solely in Carbon County, the Rock Creek Project will straddle the Carbon County and Albany County border. Approximately six to seven thousand acres of the project will be in Carbon County while the remaining 37,000 acres will be in Albany County.
“There are portions of the transmission line that connects to the grid, one of those will be going to Foote Creek. That’s for phase one, the 190 megawatt project,” said Svedeman. “For the larger 400 megawatt project, that will be interconnecting to the Aeolis Substation.”
Between the two projects, Svedeman estimated around 106 windmills would be erected and come online in 2024. At this time, however, Invernergy is going through the very beginning process as they have just recently had their jurisdictional meeting with the Industrial Siting Council (ISC) and hope to begin permitting the project this summer.
“As we keep doing the socio-economic studies and all those things that are required for the ISC, we’ll have a lot more specific numbers but, as we’re taking a more public facing role in this project, we wanted to make sure to come to you guys so you don’t hear it from somebody else what we’re doing, what our plan is,” Svedeman said.
While the new project may be similar to that of the Ekola Flats and TB Flats projects in that Invenergy is starting the process, that is where the similarities end. According to Svedeman, the two prior projects were a development transfer while the Rock Creek project would be a build transfer.
“Last time we did the development, handed it off to PacifiCorp (and) they built around it,” said Svedeman. “This time, they’re contemplating a build transfer which would be; we do the development, we build it, then we transfer the ownership and operation to them at the end of construction.”
When Chairman John Johnson asked Svedeman if Invenergy had been in communication with BLM, the latter stated that they were in talks with the Federal agency. Svedeman added that the only portion of the project involving BLM was that of the transmission line.
“There will be some corners of parcels that we cross, so we did consulting with them and are kind of doing the transmission engineering so we can go directly to them with the impacts. Early stages on that,” said Svedeman. “The land will be sited primarily on private land, there is some State of Wyoming land that will be involved. We’re negotiating that process with them right now, going through that with the Office of Stand Land and Investments.”
Commissioner John Epsy asked Svedeman how Invernergy, with the project crossing county lines, would split the sales and use tax. Prefacing by stating that he wasn’t the sales and use tax expert, Svedeman informed the commissioners that while the specific structure had not been determined yet, the taxes would be split amongst the different parties.