Wyoming is one of the top wind sites in the U.S., according to an NREL report “Wind Powering America.” The state is home to one of the oldest developed wind sites in the region, Medicine Bow online since 1982. Here, the Department of Energy funded research of wind energy production, particularly from large turbines.
The state has come a long way since then. As Wyoming Wind and Power LLC reports, the state has 1,100 MW of installed wind generation as of 2010 and its existing wind capacity ranks twelfth in the U.S. Yet the state ranks even higher, seventh, in potential wind capacity. The state has the potential to produce a whopping 227,664 MW of wind energy, enough power for 68.3 million homes. Wyoming is also home to more than 2/3 of the most productive onshore wind (class 7) in the country, but less than 1% of that energy potential has been developed.
Those who haven’t developed in Wyoming are missing out on a big opportunity. Not only does the state have ample wind resources, but recent projects and political decisions have made the state even more attractive to developers. Its proximity to railways and interstates catches the eye of those interested in building manufacturing facilities. Components made there will go to OEMs that will supply turbines to wind-farm developers who will put them to use, turning the state’s prevalent resource into power homes and business can use.
In a country were many transmission lines are outdated, getting wind power to those who will use it has been a problem, but not in Wyoming. The state plans to originate more than 15,000 MW of new capacity with six transmission lines in the next ten years. Those lines will bring Wyoming’s wind power to states such as California and Arizona that need green power to fulfill their renewable energy requirements. Wyoming politicians are also paying attention to wind, evident by many pieces of legislation that have passed through the House in the last few months. Officials recognize the state’s energy assets and are working with wind-industry representatives to make the legal system friendly to wind.
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead recently expressed his support of wind energy. “The regulatory environment is a priority for me,” he said in an emailed comment to the Billings Gazette. “It needs to be certain, predictable, and reasonable. I feel there are collateral benefits from wind power, like keeping ranchers in ranching, giving a boost to our natural gas industry, and improving the electrical transmission infrastructure. We have world-class wind resources here in Wyoming and we need to match the regulatory environment to those resources and that will make it easy for me to go out and promote our wind power industry.”
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