Wind Turbines to bring $6M to Bridger and Carbon County

By: 
Alastair Baker
News Editor
Thursday, September 12, 2019
Article Image Alt Text

Courtesy images by Pacificorp
The proposed based for the wind turbine generators.

Utah based Pacificorp has taken over the building of the Pryor Mountain Wind Project near Bridger resulting in economic benefits for the town and its schools and Carbon County of up to $6 million in impact fees.

The project is also expected to provide tax increase for Carbon County to the tune of $330,000 in the first year of operations. 

Pacificorps also received a tax abatement, meaning for the first five years they pay 25 percent of their taxes which will increase over the next five years. By year 11 they will pay 100 percent. 

For those in Bridger School District the increase in the tax base will result in approximate savings of $35 for a resident with a $100,000 house.

The project, which will cost $406 million, has seen multiple developers come and go between 2013 and 2018 until PacifiCorp purchased the project in May last year. 

Construction is expected to start this fall and be fully operational by December 2020. 

A total of 114 wind turbines generators (WTG) will be built, each with a 100-foot radius. The towers will be 80 meters high and carry blades up to 54-58 meters in length. The facility will have a capacity of approximately 240 Megawatts and is estimated will produce up to 841,000 MWh/year. An average household in the US uses 11 MWh/year (US DOE).

There will be construction impacts with each WTG requiring 10 truckloads of equipment to the site.  Pacificorp estimate 1,140 trucks total for the project, equivalent to 100 trucks per week for WTG equipment. They expect delivery of 10 WTG per week. 

As for the workforce, it is expected the project will employ a maximum of 300 workers on site at any one time with the peak number anticipated between July and August 2020. 

Once operational there will be a site manager, 10-12 wind technicians working Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. The site will also be monitored remotely 24/7. 

It is expected to have a 30-year life. 

Pacificorp representatives, Ken Clark and Robert Van Engelenhoven, were on hand to answer questions about the project at a public meeting at Bridger School, Sept. 4. 

They told those in attendance that they didn’t know if the turbines are coming by truck or rail or from the north or the south.

“It is the turbine manufacturers responsibility to obtain permits and move the turbines to the site,” said Clark. 

Some of the Impact Fees will go towards bringing Pryor Mountain Road’s Bridger Creek bridge up to State of Montana standards.

Concerns brought up at the meeting covered the influx of workers and where they would stay during the 18-month construction. It was explained that 300 workers wouldn’t be there all at once and that most likely some would stay locally at local hotels, in rentals, or even commute in. Some would even bring in their own fifth wheel. 

Dust issues along the roads being used during the project was also a safety and health concern for residents and ranchers with free-range cattle in that area. The roads in question are Quarry Road, Railroad Bed Road, Pryor Mountain Road and Pryor Creek Road. 

Clark pointed out that Pacificorps is required by the state of Montana to carry out a dust control plan and weed control plan and maintaining these roads. 

“It is just as important to us as it is to you,” he said. 

He suggested using water trucks and possibly a binding material if that is permissible in Montana. 

They acknowledged that the impact on the community would include emergency services, schools, and gas stations and that they are “Very safety conscious.” 

Regarding the towers being retired in 30-years, Clark said, “After 30 years, we are required to carry on our balance sheet an ARO (Assist Retirement Obligation.) The day we put that project into service we would carry a sum of money on our balance sheet for the dismantling and disposal of the project and returning it to the way it was. This is following GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) and regulatory requirements by the State of Wyoming.  It is the ratepayers of Rocky Mountain Power, our customers, who will ultimately own that facility.”

Please go to co.carbon.mt.us and click on Construction for more information on the Pryor Mountain Wind Project. 

How the construction site may look.

 

How the wind turbine generators will look once completed. 

Category:

The Carbon County News

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