RMP to spend $2B, sets wind farm upgrades in motion

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By Ethan Brogan ethan@glenrockind.com

Rocky Mountain Power will spend $2 billion on new wind farm turbines and upgrades.
A transmission line, electrical collector system and a collector substation are proposed to be installed at the Cedar Springs Wind Project approximately 19 miles northeast of Glenrock, according to a public notice from RMP.
The upgrades and additions are a part of RMP’s Energy Vision 2020 Plan, a plan to add 1,100 megawatts of new wind power with an estimated price tag of $3.5 billion. The plan also includes adding the first segment of the Gateway West Transmission Line, an 850-mile electrical line starting in Glenrock and finishing in Melba, Idaho.
The upgrades will extend blades from 80 to 100 meters, which will increase the gigawatts generated per hour from 2,869 to 3,612, an increase of 25 percent.
The plan also is expected to generate more than 50 percent more electricity from existing wind turbines. Across Wyoming, 1,100-1,600 temporary construction jobs are expected for the upgrades and new wind turbines throughout 2018-2019.
“We’ve been looking forward to it and it is obviously very good news for Glenrock,” Mayor Doug Frank said. “We have a lot of wind-related jobs that will be hitting us here in short order, along with the transmission line.”
The new wind farms are expected to be completed by 2020, which would allow RMP to reap the benefits of production tax credits placed on wind power by the federal government. Since establishment, renewable energy companies have received a combined $74 billion in federal subsidies, according to Management Information Systems. In order to be qualified for the subsidy, renewable energy companies need to have new wind farms or upgrades in place by 2020.
“I think we would emphasize that both the repowering of the existing wind fleet, plus the acquisition of wind projects constructed by third parties is expected to bring benefits to customers,” they will qualify 100 percent of the production tax credit. “It would make the energy costs less and be significant enough to reduce the overall costs of the wind process and power plants,” RMP Spokesperson David Eskelsen said.
Final agreements from all parties involved are expected to be completed by mid-April, according to Eskelsen.
Three other wind farm projects that are a part of the $2 billion are located in Carbon, Albany and Uinta Counties.
The project also aims to make Wyoming more than $120 million in tax revenue from construction and $8 million in revenue in 2021, which is projected to increase to $14 million annually by 2024, according to RMP.
Frank thinks the additional construction work of installing new wind turbines and the incoming installment of the transmission line will mean more cash flow and jobs for Glenrock in the future.
“It shores us up as, at the very least, a collection point,” Frank said. “If you add to this carbon capture plan. . . it will be a bonanza of jobs.”

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