Wyoming has become home to the new utility-scale solar and wind power plants as energy markets react to increased demand for the low-carbon energy, comprising renewable resources. How can Wyoming, with its abundant wind and solar resources, engage in these emerging businesses while still conserving the state’s prized landscape, wildlife habitat and open spaces?
The Ruckelshaus Institute situated at University of Wyoming held a collaborative approach to create policy proposals for evaluation by state leadership to examine this and related concerns. Ten proposals have been made by Wyoming Renewable Energy Siting Collaborative.
Private wildlife and environmental organizations, landowners and ranchers, individual project developers, renewable energy trade associations, and county governments were among the 9 invited players in Wyoming Renewable Energy Siting Collaborative, which represented a broad range of interests and stakeholders. Between December 2020 to July of this year, the group convened nine times.
Tax policy, federal-state income transmission development, sharing, and supply-chain manufacturing were among the topics discussed by the committee. The Wyoming Industrial Siting Division, Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department all provided information and advice to the organization.
Following these discussions, the collaborative participants feel that Wyoming can improve parts of renewable energy project siting and permit, as well as increase efficiency while protecting vital natural habitats. The group agreed on ten broad recommendations aimed directly at state offices and particular to siting and allowing renewable energy generation infrastructure in Wyoming, with the comprehension that any formal regulation or policy change was going to only be made through official state processes that included public participation.
Steve Smutko, who works as the Spicer Chair for the Collaborative Practice at Ruckelshaus Institute, who led the process, says, “I was extremely impressed by the depth of involvement from the collaborative members.” “This is a critical and complicated subject, and I hope the state leaders will consider these ideas as they examine how to best manage the renewable power development coming to Wyoming.”
By undertaking and communicating related studies and promoting collaborative decision-making, the Ruckelshaus Institute, which is a division of the UW’s Haub School of the Environment and Natural Resources, progresses the comprehension and resolution of the complex environmental and natural resource challenges and facilitates stakeholder-driven alternatives to environmental challenges.
Renewable energy sources produced around 15% of Wyoming’s electricity in 2020, with wind power representing four-fifths of the state’s renewable energy. Wyoming boasts some of the best wind resources in the country, particularly in the state’s southeast region.