Energy, including bioenergy, coal, electric power, fossil fuels, fusion, geothermal, hydrogen, hydropower, natural gas, nuclear, oil, and renewables like solar and wind power are primary forces developing and driving the global economy. With its location and wide open spaces, Platte County is poised on the cutting edge of both renewable energy and the oil industry.
Wheatland and Platte County first became a part of the energy industry in the late 1970's with the construction of the Laramie River Station, a coal-fired 1800 megawatt power plant located 7 miles northeast of Wheatland. This plant is unique in that it supplies power to both the western and eastern grid. It is one of the largest and cleanest coal-fired power plants in the United States, and the plant gets major upgrades to its infrastructure every year. The plant is owned by a consortium of cooperatives under the umbrella of the Missouri Basin Power Project, and it provides 300 quality jobs to the people of Platte County.
Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy, LLC has announced its plans for a 3,000 megawatt wind park in Platte County that will help power the southwestern U.S. A 3,000 megawatt transmission line will deliver Platte County wind energy to California, Nevada and Arizona and in the process could create 150 new permanent jobs for the region. Construction of the transmission line and wind park will begin in late 2016 and the project should be online by 2020. Although that seems like a long way off, Pathfinder has been working closely with local governments, PCED, and area ranchers and farmers to help this project
develop as smoothly and painlessly as possible.
Wyoming Wind and Power, a Cheyenne-based company, is focusing on the Wyoming Colorado Intertie as its key to success. The company is looking at the possibility of building a 2,000 megawatt line that would run from the Wheatland area to the front range of Colorado to help that state meet its renewable energy needs. Representatives are indicating that residents of Platte County will know more by the spring of 2013. This renewable energy project could have significant impacts on Platte County with the creation of both construction phase jobs and permanent maintenance jobs.
In early 2010 Platte County became one of six counties in southeastern Wyoming that were getting a lot of attention by the oil industry. By late 2010 150 permits had been issued in the 3 counties for horizontal wells, many of them in the Chugwater, Slater and Bordeaux area. As major national oil companies wait with anticipation to learn what production rates might bring, Platte County is also seeing a great deal of interest in oil service companies that are locating in Wheatland, Guernsey and elsewhere, bringing with it the possibility of hundreds of new permanent jobs.
There is strong support for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs in Wyoming and in Platte County. We address concerns about climate change by reducing our carbon dioxide emissions through a strong commitment to alternative energy. There are numerous grant programs offering assistance for renewable energy. In addition, the state of Wyoming provides financial incentives, including tax exemption, a rebate program, utility rebate program and alternative fuel or vehicle incentives, which are uncommon in other states.
The Department of Energy is helping to lead these advances, particularly in renewable energy sources to accelerate the development and availability of clean energy choices. Renewable energy resources are crucial to businesses, individuals, and the environment. With a diverse mix of resources, the Platte County enjoys an especially reliable supply of renewable energy, a commodity of great importance in today's market.
Energy efficiency improvements and alternative technologies offer unique opportunities for Wyoming residents. There are financial incentives that help offset the cost of installing solar and hybrid systems. Utility companies also offer rebates for energy efficient water heaters and heat pumps. Some of the funds available are administered by the Wyoming Business Council, which provides grants of 50 percent of the cost up to a maximum of $3,000.
The Wyoming Energy Conservation Improvement Program helps business owners implement, finance, and contract conservation measures.
The Variable Air Volume and Boiler Operation organization has sponsored workshops on pneumatic heat controls for over 20 years. These two and three day seminars explore the value of adding electronic heating controls, and are offered at several Wyoming locations, including Platte County.
A residential photovoltaics grant program that promotes the use of photovoltaics offers annual grants for the cost of half the system, up to $3,000.
The small business energy audit program provides 75 percent of up to $4,000 for a level two energy audit, including building shell, lighting, HVAC and process energy.
In January of 2007, the National Center for Atmospheric Research announced the creation of a supercomputing center to be based in Cheyenne, Wyoming. A partnership among several universities will facilitate the study of climate, weather, and earth sciences, addressing scientific questions regarding climate change and energy research. The center will open in late 2010 or early 2011 and will act as a hub for technology for the region and the country. The initial cost for the 60,000 square foot building to house the facility is $60 million with a projected $530 million cost over the next 20 years. This project will stimulate the economy of the state and the region, attracting businesses as well as the scientific community.
Value Added Agriculture is the process of increasing both economic value and consumer appeal for a specific agricultural commodity. Many programs that focus on this method offer alternative production and marketing strategies and track rapidly changing food industry and food safety practices. Ranchers and farmers in Platte County focus on the keys to success in value-added agriculture.
Creating a high quality product satisfies the increased public demand for commodities such as natural beef and bison. Collaboration between producers has been a key to developing local enterprises and maintaining important relationships. Planning for the future is a key to the strategic development of farms and business owners. Whether it’s a new start-up, or an established business wanting to expand, value-added agriculture programs have succeeded in developing niche markets and enhancing profitability.
Wind power is an exciting renewable source of energy, and Platte County certainly has its share of wind! Wyoming offers unique options for residents and businesses to utilize wind energy opportunities. These programs encourage community participation, promote clean energy, and also bring economic benefits to the region.
Within the next 2-5 years significant wind development is anticipated to take place in Platte County, which is considered by the AWEA to be "...the best wind in North America..." (New York Times, Nov.28, 2008). Three major transmission lines have been proposed and are in the process of gaining the necessary permits. Completion for at least one transmission line is scheduled for 2016.
Southeast Wyoming RC & D has worked to form thirteen wind associations in southeastern Wyoming, and eight of those are in Platte County. Negotiations are underway with major wind energy companies to take advantage of the world class winds which will ultimately produce at least 3,500 megawatts over the next 10 years in Platte County alone. Several contracts have been signed between wind associations and wind generation companies, and this will push the need for transmission lines to export the wind energy to the southwestern United States. For further information on wind development in Platte County and southeastern Wyoming, contact Grant Stumbough at Southeast Wyoming RC & D at 307.322.2187 or Bob Whitton at Renewable Energy Alliance of Landowners at 307.331.4606. You can also visit the S.E. Wyoming RC & D website at www.sewrcd.com.
Did you know...
-More than 2/3 of the Class 6 and 7 wind in the western United States is located in Wyoming?
-Wyoming is rated #1 by NREL in the developable nameplate wind power production potential by class?
-The National Renewal Energy Lab (NREL) has predicted that Wyoming will produce between five and ten gigawatts by the year 2030?
Oil development in the Niobrara Formation
In early 2010 conversations concerning a potential oil boom in southeastern Wyoming began circulating, and by late summer, it became obvious that the once mineral poor counties in the southeastern part of the state were in the middle of something that could change things for years to come.
Geologists and oil companies have known for decades that oil lay 8,000 feet under the high plains of Platte, Goshen and Laramie counties, but the technology didn't exist to extract the oil at the time. Known as the Denver-Julesburg Basin or the Niobrara Shale Formation, this layer of oil rich strata was a shallow sea some 65 million years ago during the late Cretaceous period. Over millions of years, tiny marine organisms died and settled to the bottom creating what today is known as the Niobrara Shale.
Trapped in that shale layer lies what could be one of the greatest oil finds in history, and some geologists are comparing it to the Alaskan Prudhoe Bay oil find and the Bakken Shale/Williston Basin oil fields of western North Dakota and eastern Montana.
The technology that is making it possible to extract oil from these shale formations is a combination of horizontal drilling and a process known as fracking, or fracturing. Developed in Canada, this process was perfected on a grand scale in the Bakken oil play of North Dakota, and in late 2009 the technology was tried in Weld County, Colorado, just south of the Colorado-Wyoming border about 30 minutes southeast of Cheyenne. Early reports have shown wells in this area to be very productive, and now the drilling has moved north into Laramie, Goshen and Platte counties, but official results, although very encouraging, are not complete enough for oil companies to predict how extensive this oil play may turn out to be.
Meanwhile, there has been a great deal of interest by oil-related businesses to locate in Platte County, and several businesses have already leased or purchased land and buildings and plan to begin operations in the very near future.
Updates to this website over the next 12 months will give the reader new information as it becomes available.
Waste to Energy Power Plant
Platte County Economic Development has been involved in bringing the concept of a waste to energy power plant to Platte County. The benefits of this plant being located in Platte County are phenomenal. Perhaps most importantly is the potential for cities and towns in this part of the state to send their municipal waste here to be incinerated at a much lower cost than to build new state-of-the-art landfills or ship their municipal waste to other parts of the state where these facilities are being built to meet the demands of the Department of Environmental Quality.
This is a very exciting project for Guernsey and Platte County, and we will be updating this webpage as more details become available.