wind turbines file

Wind turbines spin north of the Snowy Range on Thursday, April 4, 2019, south of Rock River, Wyo. Wyoming Tribune Eagle/file

CHEYENNE – Plans for a new wind farm and a renewable energy program for large-scale energy users have been approved by the Wyoming Public Service Commission, Black Hills Energy announced Wednesday.

The Corriedale Wind Energy Project is expected to open off the Otto Road exit west of Cheyenne in the fall of 2020 at a cost of $57 million. The wind farm will provide 40 megawatts of energy to commercial, industrial and governmental customers who use more than 300,000 kilowatt-hours per year. By comparison, the average U.S. residential household averaged just over 10,000 kilowatt-hours per year in 2017, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The commission also approved Black Hills Energy’s Renewable Ready Service Tariff, which company spokeswoman Laurie Farkas described as “a voluntary green tariff for our large-use customers.”

Under Renewable Ready, large energy customers will be able to buy renewable energy for periods ranging from five to 25 years, Farkas said.

Black Hills Energy said in a news release that the Corriedale wind farm will be able to provide 100% of energy needs for customers in Wyoming and South Dakota. The company said it plans to hold an open subscription period for large-use customers in the fall, but early interest indicates high demand for the new wind farm.

Farkas added that non-subscribing customers will not see any cost increases related to construction of the wind farm or the Renewable Ready program.

Farkas said it’s too early to say what kind of economic impact the construction and operation of Corriedale will have on Laramie County. While the news release touted that Black Hills would bring “a significant local construction project to our state,” Farkas said she didn’t know if a Wyoming-based company would be chosen for the construction.

“Where possible, it is always our preference to use local resources with our projects,” Farkas said. “It’s early in our process, but this will be given full consideration.”

And while Corriedale is expected to create local jobs during and after construction, Farkas didn’t have an estimate of how many jobs would be created when Corriedale is fully operational.

“Again, it’s early in our proves, but we do believe the Corriedale Wind Energy Project will create local jobs during construction and when fully operational,” Farkas said.

Farkas said Black Hills Energy will evaluate Renewable Ready to see if a similar option can be made available to residential and small-business customers in the future.

Jake Sherlock is the adviser and lead instructor for the journalism program at Laramie County Community College. He wrote this for the WTE as a freelance writer.

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