News Portal for Renewal Energy
22.07.2007 » Pressrelease » Wind Energy
Wind Energy From Coal Mine
Pacific Power proposes to use part of a restored surface coal mine as the site for a new 99-megawatt wind project it plans to build in the coming year.
Anyone familiar with Wyoming weather is aware of the state’s plentiful supply of wind. The U.S. Department of Energy lists Wyoming as one of the best sites for wind power development in the nation, based on wind frequency and dependability. Coal is another abundant natural resource found in Wyoming. While both resources can be harnessed to produce the electricity so essential to daily life, coal mines and wind energy facilities don’t often intersect.
Defying that convention, the utility plans to locate 66 wind turbines in an area where more than 40 years of surface coal mining took place. The company requested a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the Wyoming Public Service Commission July 3 as part of its efforts to move the project forward.
"We are pleased to announce plans for a new Wyoming wind energy facility that will benefit customers by adding new cost-effective renewable energy to our electrical system, as part of a comprehensive strategy to achieve a more balanced mix of resources used to generate electricity," said Pat Reiten, president of Pacific Power.
Located approximately 12 miles north of Glenrock, in Converse County, Wyo., the former Dave Johnston Coal Mine operated from 1958 to 2000, supplying the primary source of fuel for the company’s nearby Dave Johnston Power Plant. Approximately 104 million tons of coal were mined during this period. Commonly referred to as the Glenrock Mine, it was the second surface coal mine developed in the mineral-rich Powder River Basin.
Full-scale final reclamation efforts to restore the nearly 9-mile stretch of land used for mining began in 1999, and reclamation work was completed in late 2005. Mountains of dirt were moved, miles of land reseeded with native vegetation and major contouring performed in order to return the landscape to its pre-mining appearance. Providing long-term grazing land and habitat for livestock and wildlife was a central part of the award-winning reclamation, which was recognized for excellence by both the state of Wyoming and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining prior to completion.
Although the 4,600 acres of mined land was successfully restored to its original condition nearly two years ago, Pacific Power plans to move beyond reclamation to once again use the former mine property to help meet its customers’ growing electricity needs. The resource selected for the site this time around, however, is sustainable wind energy. The advantage of wind-powered generation is that wind is a free, renewable fuel source which does not produce any emissions.
The Glenrock Wind Energy Project will contribute to the 2,000 megawatts of cost-effective renewable energy PacifiCorp, which includes Pacific Power and sister company Rocky Mountain Power, expects to have included in its generation resource mix by 2013. The project also will provide significant tax revenue to state, county and local jurisdictions. The company plans to begin construction as soon as all necessary permits and approvals are in place and hopes to be able to complete the project by October 2008.
The proposed project site is located entirely on land owned by the company and encompasses more than 14,000 acres, a portion of which includes the former mine site. The project will include 66 General Electric wind turbines, along with associated towers, foundations, roads, cables and communications equipment for operation of the wind facility.
All aspects of the project will be closely monitored to ensure reclaimed lands are maintained in accordance with the company’s mine permit. The project will be designed and constructed in such a manner as to limit the impact to the land by new facilities and equipment required for plant operation. Access and construction will remain limited to designated areas.
Wyoming has the potential to site a large number of wind projects. This fact was recognized in the company’s 2007 Integrated Resource Plan, which specifically identifies Wyoming as a candidate for location of new wind facilities. Testing at the Glenrock Wind Energy Project site revealed good wind strength and availability; and the location is within relatively close proximity to an existing transmission system. The ability to site the project on company-owned land also helps to reduce the overall project cost.
Pacific Power is in the process of evaluating several other locations within and outside the state to determine the most appropriate sites for new wind energy facilities. A diverse resource portfolio that includes both coal technologies and renewable resources, as well as other resources such as natural gas-fueled and hydroelectric generation, is expected to result in the overall least-cost/least-risk balance for Pacific Power customers.