BLM, USFWS ask public to comment on Two Rivers Wind Project

Wind turbines in the background at a wind farm in Wyoming (Tim Novotny, BLM)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — Wyomingites have until Dec. 9 to respond to the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s request for comment on an environmental assessment for a proposed wind energy project.

The Two Rivers Wind Energy Project would be located near Medicine Bow and Rock River in Carbon and Albany counties, a news release said. The lands are administered by the BLM and interspersed with private and state lands. The release said the project would produce jobs and investments in the community and the state through lease payments and taxes.

BluEarth Renewables US said in an October news release that under its long-term, 280 MW power purchase agreement with PacifiCorp, PacifiCorp will purchase the electricity and associated emission offsets from the Two Rivers Wind Project near Medicine Bow, which is anticipated to achieve commercial operations in 2024. The project would invest more than $500 million into the Wyoming economy, create more than 275 jobs at peak construction, provide indirect revenue through local services and supplies and contribute continuous tax revenue to the local economy. The energy generated is equivalent to powering more than 100,000 homes annually, BluEarth said.

BluEarth said it’s conducted pre-construction wildlife surveys that fulfill U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Land-based Wind Energy Guidelines and Wyoming Game & Fish recommendations. The company listed more than one dozen environmental studies on its website, including on bat monitoring, eagle activity, raptors and white-tailed prairie dogs, in a list of responses to frequently asked questions.

The project would include up to 79 wind turbines to generate up to 420 megawatts of renewable energy. Two geographically separate wind development phases, Two Rivers Phase I-III and Phase IV, would be connected with transmission lines to PacifiCorp’s Freezeout substation. Phase I-III would be in Carbon County on about 15,657 acres of private, BLM, and state lands north of US 30/287 and Medicine Bow. Phase IV would occupy about 4,500 acres of private lands in Albany County that are south of US 30/287 and west of Rock River.

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The environmental assessment analyzes potential effects for the construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of the commercial wind energy facility. It also analyzes the environmental consequences of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issuing an incidental eagle take permit for the project since bald and golden eagle populations are around the area. If the project’s approved, a compensatory mitigation plan would be developed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, based on how many eagles they anticipate would die annually.

The two agencies might together determine that there would be no significant impact on the environment. The agencies will separately complete other documents, such as permit authorizations and decision records.

The draft environmental assessment and other application materials are available on the BLM’s ePlanning website at https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/2003881/510. To make a comment, click “Participate Now” in the left column and then click “Participate Now” in the main column.

For more information on the project, call BLM Wyoming Public Affairs Specialist Azure Hall at 307-274-5591.

Mary Stroka is the Community Reporter for County 17. She's new to Wyoming and has loved getting to know the area. She covers crime, education, faith, government, and policy for County 17. Feel free to contact her at mary@county17.com with your news tips and ideas.