Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project Article

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41°42′N 107°12′W / 41.7°N 107.2°W / 41.7; -107.2

Wind resource map at 50m above ground
External images
Area map
Wind resource map at 80m above ground

The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project is the largest proposed commercial wind generation facility in North America.


Power Company of Wyoming (PCW) began planning around 2005 for approximately 1,000 wind turbines on lands owned by The Overland Trail Ranch, [1] located south of Rawlins, Wyoming, in Carbon County; a former coal mining area. [2]

In 2007, Power Company of Wyoming installed 10 test turbines to test and verify the wind resources in the proposed area. [3]


The project is proposed to generate 2,000 to 3,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity and construction may take 3–4 years with a project life estimate of 30 years. [4] [5] [6] [7]

While winds in Texas and Iowa often blow at night, wind grows during the day in Wyoming, corresponding with consumption. The wind is Class 7, [8] and the wind capacity factor is around 46%. [9]

Construction of the wind farm's first phase could start in 2016 with completion in 2017-2019 for phase I, and 2022-2023 for phase II. [10] The first phase of 1,500 MW is expected to yield 6 TWh per year. [11] Erecting the turbines would be difficult in daytime winds, and PCW plans to set them up at night. The turbines are to be brought on site by a new rail spur, and then distributed by 500 miles of new construction roads. [8]


Impact Assistance to the local communities is expected to be $53 million, most of it to Carbon. Tax revenue could be $780 million. [12] [13] During construction, 400 workers would be employed on average, but peaking at 900. After construction, 114 people would be permanently employed. [14]

The associated 3,000 MW HVDC TransWest Express Transmission Line (also owned by PCW) from the area to Las Vegas (730 miles) [15] is expected by NREL analysts save $500 million to around $1 billion per year for Californian consumers, compared to Californian alternatives. [16] [9] [8] The TWE received approvals in December 2016/January 2017. [17] [18]

Wyoming is the only US state to tax wind power. A tax increase may impact the economy of the project. [19] [20] [21]

Regulatory process

PCW applied to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in 2008 to build the $5 billion project, which was initially approved in 2012, [22] and a second approval came in March 2016. [11] There are many different approvals to apply for, and the BLM struggled to build a regulatory system capable of handling the many new large solar and wind projects on federal lands. [23] In April 2016, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service released a draft environmental impact statement on the project for 60 days of public comment. [24] [25] BLM and FWS provided partial approvals in January 2017. [26] [27]


The area is sensitive for sage-grouse. Up to 50 biologists have tagged 370 grouse since 2010, researching their behavior around the area. A team researches golden eagles, as an "eagle take" permit is necessary. The research is to be continued during construction and operation of the wind farm so as to be compared with the condition prior to construction. The $3 million research project is paid by PCW. [8] The Bureau of Land Management estimated 40-64 eagles per year for 1.000 turbines, whereas the Fish and Wildlife Service estimates 10-16 for 500 turbines. [28]


  1. ^ The Overland Trail Ranch
  2. ^ Urbanek, Mae (1988). Wyoming Place Names. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. ISBN  0-87842-204-8.
  3. ^ Adam Voge (28 May 2013). "Intensive work begins on Wyoming wind power mega-project". Casper Star-Tribune Online.
  4. ^ Bureau of Land Management (2011-07-22). "Chokecherry/Sierra Madre Wind Energy Comment Period Opens".
  5. ^ Tina Casey (7 July 2015). "Billionare Building Largest Wind Farm in North America". CleanTechnica.
  6. ^ Ros Davidson (1 November 2014). "Wyoming wind on the long trail west". Windpower Monthly.
  7. ^ Benjamin Storrow (25 July 2015). "Will California's renewable energy mandate benefit the Chokecherry Sierra Madre wind farm?". Casper Star-Tribune Online.
  8. ^ a b c d Gabriel Kahn (29 June 2015). "How a Conservative Billionaire Is Moving Heaven and Earth to Become the Biggest Alternative Energy Giant in the Country". Pacific Standard. Retrieved 19 April 2016. [Most wind power in these places is generated at night, when the winds blow the hardest; that's the time, of course, when people need it the least. But along the ridges of the Overland Trail Ranch are some of the only Class 7 winds in the nation. What's more, the wind on the ranch starts up in the morning and gains force throughout the day, just when people are firing up their air conditioners and dishwashers.] [..take wind-generated electricity straight from Wyoming across Colorado, Utah, and Nevada and dump it into a substation on the California-Nevada border — a location that technically was part of the California grid]
  9. ^ a b D. Corbus, D. Hurlbut, P. Schwabe, E. Ibanez, M. Milligan, G. Brinkman, A. Paduru, V. Diakov, and M. Hand. " California-Wyoming Grid Integration Study", page vi-xii. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, March 2014. NREL/TP-6A20-61192
  10. ^ "Analysis: Mega-projects, the big hope of US wind". Windpower Monthly.
  11. ^ a b "BLM issues Environmental Assessment for Phase I Wind Turbine Development for the CCSM Project".
  12. ^ "Counties negotiate Chokecherry wind energy project impact funds". Laramie Boomerang. 12 June 2014.
  13. ^ BLM report moves Chokecherry closer to reality Rawlins Times, 10 March 2016
  14. ^ The tale of the magic wind farm fairy Rawlins Times, 12 March 2016
  15. ^ "TransWest Express Transmission Project: Delivering Wyoming Wind Energy". TransWest Express.
  16. ^ Thomas J. Dougherty (30 March 2014). "Favorable Winds Continue to Blow for TransWest Express Transmission Project". The National Law Review. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  17. ^ "Global Transmission Report : TransWest Express Project, US". 6 January 2017. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  18. ^ "Environmental analysis concludes for TransWest". Rawlins Times. 18 January 2017. Retrieved 22 January 2017. This closes out that overall environmental process
  19. ^ Marc Del Franco. "In Wyoming, The Tax Man Cometh For More". Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  20. ^ "Wind tax proposal complicates huge Wyo plan". Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  21. ^
  22. ^ "U.S. approves huge wind farm in Wyoming". MNN - Mother Nature Network.
  23. ^ Elizabeth Shogren (13 December 2015). "Bureaucratic gauntlet stalls renewable energy development on BLM land". High Country News.
  24. ^ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Mountain-Prairie Region. "Public Comment Sought on Draft Environmental Impact Statement Evaluating Impacts from Proposed Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Phase I Wind Energy Project". United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  25. ^ "Wind Energy: Chokecherry Sierra Madre Phase I Project". United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  26. ^ "Feds approve 1st phase of largest US wind project in Wyoming". Utility Dive. 19 January 2017. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  27. ^ "Decision for Eagle Take Permits for the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Phase I Wind Energy Project" (PDF). United States Fish and Wildlife Service. 19 January 2017. Retrieved 22 January 2017. The Service identified the proposed action (Alternative 1) as the preferred alternative.
  28. ^ "Federal eagle take permit weighed for huge Wyoming wind farm". The Washingtion Times. Retrieved 21 April 2016.

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