Company proposes state’s largest solar farm near Riverton

By: 
Katie Roenigk with the Riverton Ranger, from the Wyoming News Exchange

Company proposes state’s largest solar farm near Riverton

 

By Katie Roenigk

Riverton Ranger

Via Wyoming News Exchange

 

RIVERTON — A Wyoming-based public company plans to build a 640-acre solar farm east of Riverton. 

The project will require 300 full-time construction workers for two years as well as 25 technicians, five full-time electrical engineers, and five security personnel, for a total wage impact of $4.72 million, according to the proposal from Legend Inc. 

Project director James L. Reitsma said Legend plans to hire locally. 

“We’re not going to ship people in,” he said Thursday. “(These are) local jobs. … It’ll bring jobs to Riverton.” 

Riverton Mayor Richard Gard said he already has sent a letter of support for the project to Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, whose office provided the Legend proposal to The Ranger this week. 

The 250-megawatt solar array would be the largest in Wyoming and the fifth-largest in the United States, according to Legend, which says the Riverton area is “ranked first in the state” for sunny days, “making it a perfect location for this project.” 

Reitsma said the land in question also sits next to an existing power line, allowing Legend to send the energy it produces directly into the “public grid.” 

“We feel we have a unique piece or property that would be suited for this,” he said. “It’s an ideal location, (and) the terrain is ideal.” 

Legend has begun working with the Department of Environmental Quality to secure the permits necessary to initiate the project, and Reitsma said the company plans to hire its own environmental inspector to monitor the area on horseback on an ongoing basis.

“We need someone there to make sure we’re doing it right (and) looking after our environment and our land,” he said. “We want to be environmentally conscious, (because) our land is all we have. In this state, it is what we have.” 

The Wyoming native said the solar project will “support our state” by helping to lead Wyoming into the “new world” of green energy. 

“We’ve got to reach out for a new technology,” Reitsma said. “The country is developing, and I think we need to develop with it (and) bring green power to the state.” 

The 30,000 solar panels that will be installed on the privately-owned property off of Gas Hills Road are designed to track the sun from east to west, Legend said, allowing the devices to capture 40 percent more power throughout the day. 

Installation costs are estimated at $250 million, including $180 million for the panels and inverters alone, according to the project proposal. 

The devices are warrantied for 35 years, Reitsma said. 

Other project costs are for materials, labor, building construction, a security fence, a road, and infrastructure, as well as land, engineering, traveling, and permitting. 

Project completion is scheduled to take two years, and Legend said a board of directors will be established to oversee operations. 

Legend is working on other solar projects in different areas of Wyoming as well, Reitsma said, with the goal of sending the energy back to local communities. 

“We need to power our own people,” he said. “We need to power our state. … This is a challenge we’ve accepted, and we’re all in.”

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