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Wind Technicians

A network of access roads lead to Rocky Mountain Power wind turbines in June near Medicine Bow. A pending increase in wind development in Wyoming has some concerned about federal laws that encourage small projects. 

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This week in numbers

Friday oil prices: West Texas Intermediate (WTI) $47.48, Brent (ICE) $53.78

Natural gas weekly averages: Henry Hub $2.9, Wyoming Pool $2.65, Opal $2.7

Baker Hughes rig count: U.S. 944, Wyoming 25

Selling wind 

Rocky Mountain Power has big plans to invest in Wyoming, nearly $3 billion dollars in the next three years. Part of that would go to repowering existing wind turbines, for about $700 million, which would extend the life of those plants' federal tax credit. 

The rest of the money is for new wind, and an 140-mile leg of the Gateway West transmission line from Medicine Bow to Jim Bridger. 

But utilities can face pushback on new developments. Investments can be laid on the rate payers. RMP doesn't think that will happen. They think that with the federal tax benefit that they would scoop up for 10 years by finishing the new wind construction by 2020 will ensure a cost benefit over the long term. 

They are also betting on the cheap investment wind generation is turning out to be, with new technology and efficiencies driving down the levelized cost of wind investment. 

But does Wyoming need wind? No. Does PacifiCorp need to build this for this diverse portfolio? That's what they will spend the next few months arguing before state utility regulators while interveners raise their own concerns. 

Uranium spill tops record

The spill of more than 200,000 gallons of pre-injection fluid at the Lost Creek uranium mine near Rawlins may be the largest spill recorded in the NRC database. But, it wasn't likely dangerous, federal regulators say.

Two separate spills happened in the last few weeks, concerning environmental groups who track the companies' records. 

Though the spill was large, the fluid had not yet been used to dissolve uranium ore and so did not pose a health and safety hazard, according to NRC. 

Cameco cleared

Cameco Resources was suspended from carting waste across the state after it was reported by the receiving facility staff that noticed the leaks last year.

The company has remedied the mistakes that led to the leaks, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission decided last week. 

Quote of the week 

“It’s never easy to build big stuff, and there are a lot of questions circulating about whether they really need to build it.”

-- Bryce Freeman, administrator for the Wyoming Office of the Consumer Advocate, about PacifiCorp/Rocky Mountain Power's proposed $2.2 billion wind investment in Wyoming.

Follow energy reporter Heather Richards on Twitter @hroxaner


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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