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Wind Power Rustlers

The battle for land to place turbines on is heating up in Wyoming, with locals having little trust in the secretive salesman approach from the developers. From the developer’s perspective, there’s a lot more opportunity out there now with transmission  lines being planned as well.

A Land Rush in Wyoming Spurred by Wind Power – NYTimes.com

From early 2007 to late 2008, he said, the potential marketability of wind power in southeastern Wyoming was enhanced as plans for construction of the Wyoming-Colorado Intertie, a privately financed transmission line, became firmer and Xcel Energy showed an interest in buying the renewable energy.

“There’s a better chance that there’s a market for the power, and a way to get the power to market, than there was 18 months or two years ago,” Mr. Probst said. “So we’re definitely willing to pay more at this point.”

But many of land owners have started group partnerships to ensure that they aren’t getting screwed by the big corporations….

A Land Rush in Wyoming Spurred by Wind Power – NYTimes.com

Mr. Stumbough, of the Resource Conservation and Development office of the Agriculture Department, felt the ranchers were at a disadvantage when dealing individually with wind developers. The developers, in most cases, know more than landowners about the value of the wind and the transmission lines that will carry it.

For instance, the deal that Mr. Ahlstrand offered Elsie Bacon was valued, yard for yard, at as little as a quarter of the amount that the largest local electrical cooperative had paid for a large transmission right of way. And it included a nondisclosure clause to prevent her from comparing notes with neighbors.

Unfortunately, with the price of gas down, the market for wind projects is also down. Wind has the potential to make a sizable dent in the need for fossil fuel driven electricity – let’s hope these projects get the support they need and can keep the ranchers in business too.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.