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More wind turbines on the horizon

DOUGLAS – The $525-million-plus, 393-megawatts (MW) NextEra Energy’s Cedar Springs IV, LLC windfarm is slated to begin construction in Converse County this August, the start of a 17-month development window to bring the project online.

The wind farm will be built on approximately 57,532 acres and is located 13 miles northeast of Glenrock, accessible via WYO93 northwest of Douglas and adjacent to NextEra’s Cedar Springs Wind Farms I, II and III, which switched on live just over two years ago.

This is Next Era’s fourth wind farm in Converse County. Officials expect No. 4 to be online for commercial operation sometime in December 2024.

The company estimates it will employ an average of 228 people monthly during the construction phase, with a peak of about 350 workers in July 2024 and about 15 permanent jobs once this wind farm is live.

The project is, of course, contingent upon approval and permitting by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality’s Industrial Siting Division. An application for permitting is filed with the sitting council, and a public contested case hearing on the matter involving the impacted parties – Converse and Natrona counties – will be held June 20 at 8 a.m. in the Douglas Library meeting room.

NextEra is likely to receive approval for this project, as the previous three wind farms were approved.

The ISC reviews the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of industrial facilities before issuing a permit for construction.

The level of impact workers make to the communities they live in during construction usually determines how much money a company can pay the affected communities in impact assistance.

The entire project, including up to 73 wind turbines and associated infrastructure, will be constructed on private and state land leases within Converse County, according to the nearly 1,300-pages-long permit application filed with DEQ.

Converse County Commission Chair Jim Willox said the impact area will be the same as it was in the previous Cedar Springs wind farms.

“The county and the community welcome the addition of Cedar Springs IV as part of our energy strategy taking place in Converse County. They are a major taxpayer and contributor to our communities. P&Z (planning and zoning) will take their first look at the application April 18. (NextEra) has officially applied to the county as well. We will work together as we have in the past,” Willox said.

Just how much money Converse County could receive in impact funds is still up in the air, he said.

Based on adjustments made by ISC since the last round of Cedar Springs wind farms, there have been changes made. Willox said that Converse County “may see less than what we saw previously, and that’s okay, but I’ll have to take a look at it and sit down and work out the calculations. Right now, I don’t know. We will see. The process is moving forward.”

This story was published on April 5, 2023.

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