Expansion of wind farm near Wyoming-Colorado state line moves forward | TheFencePost.com

Expansion of wind farm near Wyoming-Colorado state line moves forward

Bill Jackson
Greeley, Colo.

The expansion of a wind farm in northeast Weld County was approved by the Weld County Planning Commission on Tuesday following some last-minute changes by the company proposing to build it.

The first phase of the Cedar Creek facility, about eight miles east of Grover, began full commercial operation in January 2008, according to BP Wind Energy. It generates 300.5 megawatts of power, enough to provide electricity for 90,000 homes, from 273 wind turbines. The power produced from that portion of the Cedar Creek wind farm is sold to the Public Service Co. of Colorado, a subsidiary of Xcel Energy Inc., and is transferred via a 56-mile electrical line to a substation near Keenesburg.

David Gonzalez, director of business development-wind power for BP Wind Energy, said the expansion will feature 123-127 additional wind turbines with a generating capacity of up to 300 megawatts.

The expansion also must be approved by the Weld County commissioners.

Tom Holton, chairman of the planning commission, was not happy with some of the changes made to the application – filed with planning staff about a week ago. He threatened to delay a vote on the request. But company officials and planning staff spent about half an hour going over the changes before coming back to the commission, which then voted unanimously for approval.

A lot of those changes dealt with traffic and road maintenance during construction and water that would be trucked in during construction.

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Gonzalez said the expansion represents a $300 million investment in the county.

The second phase is planned on about 30,000 acres east of the first phase, or north of New Raymer and Stoneham. Gonzalez said BP Wind Energy would like to start construction this summer and it will take about a year to complete. About 250 workers will be needed for the construction with 12-14 permanent employees once operational.

Mark Lawley, vice chairman of the commission, asked Gonzalez if the wind turbines would be purchased from the Vestas manufacturing plant in Windsor.

“We would utilize an existing agreement we have in place (with another manufacturer), but it’s possible that if construction is delayed we could purchase some from Vestas,” Gonzalez said.

Chris Gathman with the planning department said the department received five letters from property owners with only one expressing concerns about land use and the long-term viability of wind generation.

That came from Monte Younglund, who also has an air strip that has been part of the family ranch north of New Raymer for years. Younglund said an agreement for the future use of that air strip had not yet been worked out with BP Wind Energy. The commission, in voting for approval, said that agreement must be reached prior to the start of construction.

Tom Carr, who operates the Colorado Cattle Company Guest Ranch north of New Raymer with his wife, Darcy, said he had 191 visitors on the ranch last year, half from foreign countries.

“I visited with every one of them individually and asked them about this and every one of them was happy with the wind project. I was quite happy and pleased with that,” Carr said.