Permitting work for new wind project to begin

LARAMIE — The permitting process for the proposed Rock Creek Wind Project is set to begin this summer, and if all goes according to plan, construction on the 590-megawatt project could start as soon as 2023.

The project, a proposal of Chicago-based company Invenergy, would be located on mostly private land about 25 miles north of Laramie between Interstate 80 and Rock River. Most of the project, about 37,000 acres, would be located in Albany County, with about 6,000 acres in Carbon County.

Invenergy also built the Ekola Flats and TB Flats projects north of Medicine Bow, which are now owned by PacifiCorp. Similarly, Invenergy would transfer ownership of the Rock Creek project to a Wyoming utility as well.

“In our mind, the Rock Creek Wind Project will pick up where Ekola Flats and TB Flats left off, and bring more clean power to the area, more tax revenue to the area,” said Chase Marston, the project’s lead developer.

Marston gave a presentation about the project to the Albany County Planning and Zoning Commission during its June meeting. He said Invenergy plans to apply for a wind energy conversion system permit from Albany County later this summer and seek a permit from the Wyoming Industrial Siting Division this fall.

Six to eight turbines would sit on state land, and Invenergy is also seeking permission from the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments for that portion of the project.

Permitting for connection lines will continue next year, with the goal of beginning construction in 2023 and starting operation by the end of 2024.

The project would require about 350 construction jobs and offer 20-30 full-time operational jobs. Marston said it would generate $190 million in state and local tax revenue during its lifetime.

The project calls for about 106 turbines that would be close to 600 feet tall, depending on the model that’s chosen.

The Rock Creek project would consist of two separate projects, Rock Creek I and Rock Creek II. They would be visibly contiguous, but one would connect to the Foote Creek Substation about five miles away while the other would connect to the Aeolus Substation via a 40-mile line.

Marston said the project would be located in an area with few residences and sit amid existing wind projects. The High Plains, McFadden Ridge and Foote Creek wind projects are located north and west of the area.

“We do recognize that wind turbines are going to be very visible. There’s no way around that,” Marston said. “We have selected a site that’s nestled within three existing wind projects.”

He said the view from neighboring highways wouldn’t be substantially different than it is already.

“That’s one of the reasons we’re really excited about it,” he said. “We think the visual impact will be relatively lessened.”

Most of the private land is owned by the Wheatland Irrigation District, and there aren’t any residences within the project boundary.

“It’s very rural and a great spot for dual use — harvesting the air and for the irrigation purposes it’s already being used for,” he said.

Although the project is some distance from its two transmission lines, Marston said Invenergy plans to mostly follow existing right-of-ways to connect with them.

“We’re going to be able to minimize our impact on those pretty effectively,” he said. “They will be quite long, but hopefully with very few impacts.”