Albany County wind project one step closer to breaking ground
A controversial wind turbine project outside of Laramie received approval from the U.S. Department of Energy to move forward.
The Rail Tie Wind Project, spearheaded by power company ConnectGen, has been in the works since 2019. The end goal is a 504 megawatt wind farm with up to 149 wind turbines in southeastern Albany County.
The Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), which is a federal organization under the Department of Energy, issued a record of decision this week. WAPA approved ConnectGen’s interconnection request, which will connect the wind farm to an already existing transmission line in Albany County.
“Significant impacts on visual resources, certain historic properties, and eagles from turbine operations were identified; impacts on all other resources were found to be less than significant,” according to the record of decision.
Mark Wieringa, the WAPA National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) project manager for the Rail Tie Wind Project, said the approval was the final step in the NEPA process.
Wieringa said having a transmission line connection for a wind farm is key for a power project.
“The transmission has to come first, you're not going to build renewable energy generation with nothing to connect it to,” he said.
Wieringa added that construction is slated to begin in 2023.
“But any number of things could delay that,” he said.
Wieringa said several other reviews of the project have to be completed before construction can begin.
Additionally, some Albany County residents filed an appeal this spring with the Wyoming Supreme Court objecting to the permit that was granted to the Rail Tie Wind Project. A decision could take up to 18 months.