CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The Wyoming Supreme Court has upheld permits issued by the state and Converse County allowing construction of two wind farms in the Laramie Range.
Wasatch Wind of Salt Lake City has planned to construct 62 towers at two locations. The Northern Laramie Range Alliance filed two lawsuits challenging permits issued to the company by the Converse County Board of Commissioners and the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council.
In the first suit, the alliance and the associated Northern Laramie Range Foundation together with White Creek Ranch LLC challenged the Converse County permit. In the second case, the alliance and the foundation challenged the state construction permit.
The ruling, written by Chief Justice Marilyn Kite, states that the Industrial Siting Council correctly considered not only Wasatch's financial resources to build and ultimately decommission the project, but also considered the financial condition of its proposed investor, Edison Mission Energy.
Edison Mission Energy, a power wholesaler, and its Chicago-based subsidiary Midwest Generation, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday to try to restructure about $5 billion in debt.
In upholding the ISC permit, Kite wrote, "The record contains substantial evidence to support the ISC's conclusion that Wasatch's proposed facility will not pose a threat of serious injury to the environment or to the social and economic condition or inhabitants in the affected area."
Edison Mission Group has developed two wind farms in Uinta County, Wyo. Bob Stiens, spokesman for the Santa Ana, Calif.-based company, said he couldn't immediately comment on whether the bankruptcy might affect the Wasatch project.
Christine Watson Mikell, president of Wasatch Wind, said her organization is very pleased with the court decision. She said it's still reviewing the matter with its attorneys.
"We have done the environmental work, so it's a fully permitted project," Mikell said. She said the company hasn't started the 100-megawatt project and still needs to review the court decision.
The Northern Laramie Range Alliance issued a statement:
"While disappointed with the court's ruling, the Northern Laramie Range Alliance believes the outcome is not surprising: As far as we have been able to determine, the ISC has never declined to issue an industrial siting permit in its 40 years of existence," the statement said. The alliance's news release also noted that Edison is in bankruptcy.
"With the deeply held belief that large-scale industrial facilities such as the Wasatch Wind project have no place in the Northern Laramie Range, the Alliance will continue its efforts to prevent the construction of this project and other large-scale industrial development that threatens the Range."