Wyoming high court upholds Glenrock wind farm project; bankruptcy filing could present challenge

2012-12-18T16:45:00Z 2013-06-25T17:53:04Z Wyoming high court upholds Glenrock wind farm project; bankruptcy filing could present challengeBy JEREMY FUGLEBERG Star-Tribune business editor Casper Star-Tribune Online

Wyoming’s highest court ruled a state board properly approved a proposed 62-turbine wind farm south of Glenrock — a project whose funding partner just filed for bankruptcy protection.

The Wyoming Supreme Court on Friday upheld a lower court’s decision supporting Converse County Commission and state Industrial Siting Board permits for the 100-megawatt Pioneer Wind Park project along Mormon Canyon Road.

“We are very pleased with the decision and appreciate the continued support we’ve received throughout this lengthy process from the projects’ landowners and many other community residents,” said Christine Mikell, president of project developer Wasatch Wind, in a news release.

The decision put an end to one of a string of legal challenges by the Northern Laramie Range Alliance, a resident group in the area opposed to the project.

The “outcome is not surprising” because the state board hasn’t declined an industrial siting permit for a project in its existence, the group said in a media release. The Northern Laramie Range Foundation and White Creek Ranch joined the alliance in the complaints.

The decision clears the way for Park City, Utah-based Wasatch to develop the wind farm. But the project may face another challenge. Edison Mission Energy, Wasatch’s financial partner on the project, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Chicago on Monday, along with its Chicago-based subsidiary Midwest Generation.

The company, a power wholesaler and subsidiary of California utility Edison International, said its financial woes were because of high fuel costs, low power prices and the cost of upgrading coal-fired power plants to meet environmental regulations.

A Wasatch Wind representative said the company didn’t have any comment on how the bankruptcy filing will affect the Pioneer Park project.

The Northern Laramie Range Alliance has consistently pointed to Edison’s financial woes as one of its main concerns, particularly since the state Industrial Siting Board must find a project’s developer has the financial capability to build, operate and eventually dismantle the wind farm.

“With the deeply held belief that large-scale industrial facilities such as the Wasatch Wind project have no place in the Northern Laramie Range, the Alliance will continue its efforts to prevent the construction of this project and other large-scale industrial development that threatens the Range,” the group wrote in its news release.

Reach Jeremy Fugleberg at 307-266-0623 or jeremy.fugleberg@trib.com. Read his blog at trib.com/news/opinion/blogs/boom/ and follow him on Twitter: @jerenergy.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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