Wyoming is ready for the wind-energy industry — it’s only a matter of persuading companies to invest in projects. That’s the reason Wyoming was one of the states with a booth at the American Wind Energy Association’s WINDPOWER 2011 conference in Anaheim, Calif.
The state is home to some of the best, most consistent wind in the country, said Bob Jensen, CEO of the Wyoming Business Council. He said the cost of doing business in Wyoming is lower than in some other places, and the state’s highways and other infrastructure should help attract business.
The issue that could be holding back Wyoming wind energy, as well as energy expansion across much of the nation, is a lack of transmission lines, which Jensen said he hopes will change soon.“We haven’t built any new transmission in this nation to speak of for decades,” he said. “We’re just going to flat run out of generating capacity and the ability to get that to customers.”
Loyd Drain, executive director of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, said the consistency of Wyoming’s wind would offset the cost of energy transmission to other parts of the country. Wind energy generated in Wyoming could power appliances on either coast for less than energy produced from an offshore wind farm, he said.
The cost of building transmission lines often can deter expansion, Drain said, but expansion could be done efficiently so funding isn’t wasted. He said the interconnectivity of wind farms in states such as Wyoming, California and Colorado would benefit the region because the locations have different times of day when the wind blows best.
Kara Choquette, director of communications for Power Company of Wyoming, said that while a “not-in-my-backyard” mindset can hamper large-scale projects, in Wyoming, areas of proposed development are sparsely populated, meaning fewer people would be affected by wind farms or transmission lines. Additionally, the public has an opportunity to provide input early on in the development process. Working with concerned parties ensures a project works for everyone, she said.