Profile: Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project — Carbon County, Wyoming

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As the U.S. wind energy industry continues to champion the cause of carbon reduction in energy generation, the largest proposed wind farm in the country — ironically to be situated in a community named Carbon — is pushing forward through the development process. 
 
The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project, located just south of the cities of Sinclair and Rawlins in Carbon County, Wyoming, is expected to be comprised of up to 1,000 wind turbines, amassing a total nameplate capacity of 3,000 MW. 
 
The project, first proposed in 2006, is being developed by Power Company of Wyoming, LLC, a wholly owned affiliate of The Anschutz Corporation.
 
The wind project will be constructed in two phases on 320,000 acres of land, ownership of which is split equally between the federal government and private parties.
 
Upon completion, the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre project will generate enough electricity to power 1,000,000 average homes, and will effectively reduce carbon emissions an estimated 7 million to 11 million tons annually. 
 
The fact that the project is being built to a large degree on federal lands will make a significant contrubution toward achieving the goal of 10,000 MW of renewable energy generation on federal land by 2015, as outlined in the 2005 Energy Policy Act. Sidebar
 
As many as 1,000 jobs are expected to be created during the project’s construction phase. When complete, the project will employ 114 permanent workers in operations and maintenance functions.
 
The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre project is expected to result in $300 million in property tax revenue in the first 20 years of operation, as well as $232 million in sales tax revenue and $150 million in Wind Electricity Tax, paid to the State of Wyoming.
 
Eight years into its development, the project is currently in the process of completing regulatory reviews and permitting prior to the start of construction. 
 
“There are more complexities and costs related to permitting a project on federal land than on private land, and it typically takes more time,” said Kara Choquette, communications director for Power Company of Wyoming, regarding the development timeline of the project. Timeline
 
“The project has received its key Carbon County permit, its key State of Wyoming environmental and siting permit, and a Record of Decision from the BLM/Department of the Interior approving the site for wind energy development subject to a second-level review of the site-specific plans of development,” Choquette said. “That second-level review is anticipated to be completed by BLM by the end of 2014.”
 
Power Company of Wyoming estimates the total project cost at $5 billion. The company has spent more than $45 million thus far in the early development stages of siting and permitting.
 
 Public support on all levels, from national to local, has been positive about the project, Choquette said. In fact, during a two-day permitting hearing in August, no one commented in oppopsition of the project. 
 
For more information on the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project, visit the Power Company of Wyoming’s website at www.powercompanyofwyoming.com.