Wyoming utility meets its wind power targets

2010-10-16T23:45:00Z 2010-10-17T00:22:37Z Wyoming utility meets its wind power targetsDUSTIN BLEIZEFFER Casper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette
October 16, 2010 11:45 pm  • 

CASPER — Wyoming’s largest wind energy developer says it has met its current goals for wind-based generation and has no further plans to build more wind farms in Wyoming.

Rocky Mountain Power owns nine wind farms in Wyoming with a total capacity of 626.6 megawatts. In addition, the regulated utility has long-term contracts to buy power from six other Wyoming wind farms owned by merchant developers, including Duke Energy from its Top of the World wind farm.

Rocky Mountain Power, which operates as PacifiCorp outside of Wyoming, maintains an “integrated resource plan,” which looks at how the utility will meet electrical demand. The current plan extends through 2017, and does not include any new wind or coal projects in Wyoming.

“Since 2006, we’ve added 12 wind projects that we own and operate in Wyoming, Oregon and Washington. We have also acquired cost-effective renewable energy for customers through power purchase agreements with other wind project owners,” Mark Tallman, PacifiCorp’s vice president of renewable resource acquisition, said in a prepared statement.

Wyoming’s current wind energy capacity of 1,285-plus megawatts is a small fraction of the 15,000-megawatt build-out initially anticipated by state and industry leaders.

There are, however, at least two more proposed wind farms that state regulatory officials expect will move forward in the short term. Shell Wind Energy is preparing to submit permit applications for a wind farm in Albany County, and Wasatch Wind is preparing an application for a 100-megawatt wind farm in the uplands of the Northern Laramie Range in Converse County.

These, and many other remaining proposed wind projects, come from “merchant” companies, which typically are not integrated to include the transmission lines to take their wind power to market. Rocky Mountain Power, a regulated utility operating in six Western states, is Wyoming’s largest wind developer in part because it also owns a large transmission network.

Tallman said many people mistakenly suggest that the company’s wind energy projects in Wyoming are a direct result of self-imposed renewable energy requirements in other Western states, such as Oregon and California.

“That is far from the truth,” he said. “In fact, these are cost-effective resources that are needed to help meet our customers’ growing electricity needs in Wyoming and the other five states we serve. These resources have also resulted in valuable federal tax benefits being passed through to our customers.”

Rocky Mountain Power’s Gateway West electrical transmission project linking 3,000 megawatts of Wyoming power to the Southwest is still in the works. However, the line will be built in segments, with portions going into service between 2014 and 2018.

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