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Wind

An antelope stands on the prairie against the backdrop of a Rocky Mountain Power wind farm this summer near Medicine Bow.

Wyoming’s largest utility has selected four wind projects to help meet its expansion goals, growing its wind development in the Cowboy State by 60 percent, enough to power about 450,000 homes.

Rocky Mountain Power, a subsidiary of Pacificorp, is pushing wind development and transmission in Wyoming ahead of a 2020 deadline in order to take advantage of federal tax credits due to sunset.

The Salt Lake City-based firm put out a request last fall for wind proposals of at least 10 megawatts that could reach operation by Dec. 31 2020.

Four projects will move forward, the company announced Tuesday.

The largest wind farm will be a 500 megawatt project in Carbon and Albany counties. PacifiCorp will build, own and operate that farm

A 400 megawatt project in Converse County will be built by NextEra Energy Resources. It will be joint-owned by NextEra and Pacificorp.

The company will also build, own and operate a 250 megawatt facility in Carbon County.

Finally, Invenergy will build a 161 megawatt farm in Uinta County, which will be owned and operated by Pacificorp.

Rocky Mountain Power CEO Cindy Crane said in a statement that the projects “will significantly expand the company’s Wyoming wind fleet and benefit the state and local economies.”

The projects are estimated to generate between 1,100 and 1,600 construction jobs and more than 200 full-time positions. Wyoming will receive a $120 million boost in tax revenue from the construction phase and an annual tax income of $14 million by 2024, according to Rocky Mountain Power.

The company announced its Energy Vision 2020 plan last April, which included a 140-mile leg of the Gateway West transmission line and equipment upgrades of the company’s existing Wyoming wind farms.

The plan was expected to cost nearly $3 billion. Rehabbing existing turbines was priced at about $700 million, while new wind and the transmission line would cost about $2.2 billion.

The company announced Tuesday that the new wind has come in under budget at about $1.5 billion.

Rocky Mountain Power expects construction to begin in 2019, depending on permit approval, right of way access and state commission agreement.

The rapid expansion of wind development in Wyoming has attracted the attention of lawmakers currently in Cheyenne for the legislative session.

A bill to increase Wyoming’s tax on wind production, widely opposed in the wind industry, failed to make it to introduction last week.

Meanwhile, lawmakers that appear to be making peace with wind in light of its role diversifying the state’s economy have advanced a measure, House Bill 152, that offers a property tax exemption to wind energy equipment while it’s in storage in the state.

Follow energy reporter Heather Richards on Twitter @hroxaner

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Energy Reporter

Heather Richards writes about energy and the environment. A native of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, she moved to Wyoming in 2015 to cover natural resources and government in Buffalo. Heather joined the Star Tribune later that year.

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