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Albany County approves 32,000-acre Rock Creek Wind Project

A wind farm operates a few miles north of the Center Mine and its adjacent power plant.
Amy Sisk
A wind farm operates a few miles north of the Center Mine and its adjacent power plant.

A large wind farm has now won approval from both Carbon and Albany County Commissioners, and now awaits state and federal approvals before construction can start.

In December, the Albany County Commission tabled an application for the Rock Creek Wind Project, which seeks to put more than 100 turbines north of Laramie.

Some of the commissioners wanted more time to ask questions about the project's environmental impacts. Chair Pete Gosar said some of those questions have been answered.

"But I think there are some questions left outstanding that I will look forward to the Industrial Siting Council and the Game and Fish and the Fish and Wildlife Services answering," Gosar said. "I think we should always be concerned by the wild populations that are impacted by any industrial development."

The 590-megawatt wind farm would straddle the Albany-Carbon county line, with the bulk of its turbines and acreage in Albany. The Rock Creek Wind Project will be nestled among other smaller wind farms already in the area.

The approval now comes with a request from Commission Chair Pete Gosar – that the project managers go above and beyond the strict requirements of the county's regulations.

"My hope is that you can ask a company, as you can people, to maybe sacrifice a buck or two here and do a better job, maybe site (the turbines) away from golden eagle nests and pay attention to the wintering grounds of the mule deer and the antelope," Gosar said. "Maybe you sacrifice a turbine or two, but you do a better overall job for the entirety of the project."

The county's wind siting regulations were updated recently, amid the debate surrounding the Rail Tie Wind Project. But Gosar says there is more to be done. The local Environmental Advisory Committee is currently reviewing those regulations.

Pending state and federal approvals, the Rock Creek wind farm could begin construction in 2023 and be operational by 2024.

Jeff is a part-time reporter for Wyoming Public Media, as well as the owner and editor of the Laramie Reporter, a free online news source providing in-depth and investigative coverage of local events and trends.

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