renewable energy

The Bureau of Land Management is charging back-due rent on renewable energy projects on public lands, as the Department of Interior simultaneously works to give oil and gas operators financial relief.

The rough map of Pacificorp's transmission expansion throughout the Mountain West
Pacificorp

A large western utility with customers in 10 western states including Wyoming is preparing to make its largest request for new renewable energy ever. It's a step towards executing its October 2019 Integrated Resource Plan.

A proposed wind farm in southern Idaho could become one of the largest in the nation.

 


www.nrel.gov

There were only six bills centered on renewables this session, but you'd be forgiven to think there were many more. Even when it wasn't the topic of conversation, renewables were on lawmaker's minds.

Solar jobs are up across the U.S., after two consecutive years of declines. But that growth is mixed in our region.

According to the latest report from the nonprofit solar energy advocate, The Solar Foundation, more than 5,600 solar jobs were added last year.

Cooper McKim

South of Laramie, there's a road that goes straight into the plains. Over the hill, it's just open country, boulders and eventually, a tan house with a large porch facing the Rockies.

When it comes to greenhouse gases, much of the attention is being paid to energy production. But since 2017, the transportation sector has actually been the biggest emitter nationwide.

Corporations Committee hears from its first public commenter
Cooper McKim

A crowd lined a room in the Wyoming Liquor Division as the Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee heard testimony on two bills that would affect the solar industry. After nearly four hours of impassioned speaking, both bills died on split seven to seven votes.

A new study shows that global wind speeds have increased in the last decade, and that may allow wind turbines in the Mountain West to generate more clean energy.

As an increasing number of states focus on renewable energy, batteries are becoming more of a necessity. And according to a new report, battery costs are dropping—but not enough to compete with fossil fuels.

The report comes from Climate Central, a nonprofit organization that studies the impacts of climate change. In it, the authors state that batteries and renewable energy sources are becoming cheaper by the year.

Reintroduced legislation incentivizing more renewable energy projects on public lands is getting rare bipartisan support.

New legislation that aims to significantly increase renewable energy utility projects on public lands is receiving strong bipartisan support.

Members of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources were united in support of the Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act.

Tony Webster, Wikimedia Commons

Energy companies in Wyoming are offering programs for customers to switch to renewable energy. Customers can pay between $5 and $15 per month to make their homes completely carbon neutral. Partial plans are also offered.

Stephanie Joyce

Wyoming’s energy resources are famous in the U.S., but they also play a role internationally. Coal markets are doing better now than in the past several years partially thanks to increasing exports and international prices. Dr. Robert Ichord helps give a broad view on the future of coal, renewable energy and carbon capture technology. Dr. Ichord has been a leader in energy transformation and security for years within the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development and Department of Energy. 

Wind Power Controversy In Wyoming

Jun 29, 2018
PRI’s The World

Strong winds blowing through a gap in the rocky mountains could generate electricity in Wyoming. And customers in California want to buy it. But wind power's a hard sell in Wyoming, where coal is still king. A state with an economy built on coal  - has a chance to develop a green resource. As part of PRI's The World "50 States" project, reporter Jason Margolis has more.

Bureau of Land Management

Driving west across Wyoming, there are windmills lined up across bluffs in the distance. Oil and gas rigs dot both sides of the highway. Open-pit coal mines too. What you won’t see on a cross-state trip are any fields of solar panels. In Sweetwater County, that could soon change.

Sweetwater Solar Energy Project Project Overview
Bureau of Land Management

A potential solar energy project in southwest Wyoming obtained a permit last week moving it a step closer to construction. The Sweetwater Solar Energy Project, to be located near Green River, would be the largest the state’s ever seen, providing 80 megawatts of generating capacity to the electrical grid. That’s enough to power almost 12,000 homes each year, according to a project description given to the Bureau of Land Management.

Panel at the "Future of Solar" event with Cheyenne Representative Dan Zwonitzer on the left
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

Legislators, businesspeople, and residents came together in Laramie Wednesday to discuss the future of solar energy in Wyoming. The event was organized by the Powder River Basin Resource Council and the Wyoming Outdoor Council.

Annual Solar and Biomass Electricity Capacity (2014-2017)
Electric Power Monthly / U.S. Energy Information Administration

Solar generation surpassed biomass in 2017 to become the third most generated renewable resource in the U.S., according to a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. It still lags behind wind and hydropower.

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Teton County contributed $250,000 toward a shared solar energy facility in Jackson. The solar farm was approved by the town council this past August. Instead of individuals and business buying their own panels, customers will buy solar power from the plant.

The chair of the Teton County Board of County Commissioners, Mark Newcomb, said the farm will help alleviate pressure from their main source of energy: hydropower.

PacifiCorp Logo
PacifiCorps

PacifiCorp, the largest utilities company in the western U.S., will evaluate the cost of its coal resources. The Oregon Public Utility Commission requested the action after customers and advocacy groups demanded more information on whether the current coal plants made sense economically.

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Jackson's town council made way for more solar investment last week, allowing customers to buy into the soon-to-built solar farm. 

The shared solar system would be based out of a farm at Jackson’s wastewater treatment plant. The solar farm, itself, was approved by the town council this past August. The idea is for new customers to buy solar power from a farm, rather than buying panels themselves. 

Johnny Ziem, Jackson’s wastewater plant superintendent, co-developed the idea for a shared solar farm. He said the next step is to solidify new customers.

Leigh Paterson

What are your views regarding the increase of wind energy in Wyoming?

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By contributing your comment, you consent to the possibility of having it read on the air.

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In Wyoming’s coal-rich Powder River Basin, the city of Sheridan is exploring how renewable sources of energy might fit into its future. The local government applied for a $44,000 research grant that the Wyoming Business Council approved earlier this month.

Now their proposal will go before the governor’s State Land and Investment Board for final approval. The town’s leaders have been looking into wind, solar, and hydropower development since the 1990s, and a recent economic study found that a lack of renewable development in Sheridan could be a deal-breaker for tech companies.

Photo by Arundathi Nair

With the fossil fuel industry in a decline, policy makers, industry executives, and environmental activists are faced with some hard questions about Wyoming's energy future. The topic captured the attention of Arundathi Nair, a 9th grader at Laramie High School. She recently won C-Span's StudentCam 2017 competition for her film "Fossil Fuels to Renewables," which promotes seeking solutions through discussion rather than debate.

Nair's film can be viewed here.

 

Public Domain

The Obama Administration announced the approval of two major transmission lines, one that will travel 728 miles across southern Wyoming to Nevada, delivering 3,000 megawatts of energy, enough to power 1.8 million homes. A second 400-mile transmission line called Energy Gateway South has also been approved for Utah.

Some 60 new wind, solar and geothermal projects are slated for development around the West. Bureau of Land Management spokesman Brad Purdy said, the energy grid is in need of such modernization. 

Stephanie Joyce

In its largest renewable energy purchase to date, Microsoft has agreed to buy more than 200 megawatts of power from wind farms in Wyoming and Kansas. 

Public Domain

A new rule from the U.S. Department of Interior is aimed to spur renewable energy development in areas that have ample wind and solar resources as well as low conflict with wildlife. With the new rule, 700,000 acres of public lands could be used for renewable energy development through a competitive leasing process. 

Alex Daue is the Assistant Director of Energy and Climate for the Wilderness Society. He said public lands should be part of the solution to climate change. 

Dan Boyce/Inside Energy

With help from a supercomputer in Cheyenne, researchers have developed a new solar energy forecasting system that could help utilities integrate more renewables and save money.

Stephanie Joyce

Inside the secured vault at Green House Data are rows and rows of glass and metal cabinets, chock-full of humming electronics and colorful cables.

“This is the cloud,” said Art Salazar, the company’s director of operations, as he led a tour of the building. “You're standing right in front of the cloud.”

The cloud, where you upload photos and stream video, is real, physical infrastructure, housed in data centers across the country.

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