Wyoming wind farm making same power with 80% fewer turbines
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Bigger, more efficient equipment will allow an electric utility to redevelop Wyoming’s first commercial wind farm so it produces the same amount of power with far fewer turbines, an example of the growing feasibility of renewable energy in the top U.S. coal-mining state.
Portland, Oregon-based PacifiCorp plans to replace 68 wind turbines at the Foote Creek I wind farm with 13 turbines. The wind farm atop the barren and blustery ridge called Foote Creek Rim west of Cheyenne will continue to generate about 41 megawatts, or enough electricity to power nearly 20,000 homes.
Solar power often gets attention for efficiency gains but many U.S. utilities also are working to squeeze more megawatts out of wind, PacifiCorp spokesman Spencer Hall said.
“Just imagine buying a new cellphone today versus in ’98,” Hall said, referring to when the wind farm’s first turbines were installed. “It’s becoming a thing where we can’t even get labor on some of them, there are so many projects going on.”
PacifiCorp has 1.9 million customers in Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Washington state, Oregon and California and wants to get more electricity from wind power in the years ahead, while reducing what it generates from coal.
Environmental groups are waiting for an October announcement by PacifiCorp outlining its future plans for coal-fired power. PacifiCorp has been weighing whether to shut down as many as nine coal-fired generating units at power plants in Colorado and Wyoming over the next several years.
“All indications are showing it will include some early retirements on at least some of the units,” said Hall.