October 1, 2008

Renewable Energy Blows into Cheyenne

By Michelle Dynes

By Michelle Dynes

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CHEYENNE - Cheyenne Light, Fuel and Power customers now get some of their electricity from Wyoming winds.

Cheyenne Light and Duke Energy opened the Happy Jack Wind Farm to public tours after a dedication ceremony Tuesday.

The blades turned lazily at the site as 170 representatives from the city, county and state gathered to celebrate. But energy leaders are confident that the 14 turbines located nine miles west of town will pro-

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duce enough electricity to provide several thousand homes with clean energy.

A customer poll found that local residents want more renewable power, said Mark Stege, vice president of operations for Cheyenne Light.

Cheyenne Light and its parent company, Black Hills Power, signed an agreement to buy wind farm power from Duke Energy for the next 20 years. The energy collected will go back into the transmission grid to serve customers for both power companies.

Rick Rhodes from Duke Energy said it isn't common to have a power purchase signed before construction begins. But it is a good sign that clean energy is in demand.

Wyoming and South Dakota do not have renewable portfolio standards that require power companies to add alternative energy sources.

The Happy Jack Wind Farm represents a voluntary effort to offer clean energy, said David Emery, CEO for Black Hills Power. And wind has a place alongside coal, natural-gas and nuclear energy.

"We see this as a cost-effective, zero-emissions addition to our energy supply," he added.

The wind farm also offers a potential employer for students enrolled in the wind technician program at Laramie County Community College. Students were invited to scale the towers during the construction phase to make sure they were comfortable with a workplace hundreds of feet off the ground, Stege said.

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