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UW-Facilitated Renewable Energy Siting Collaborative Releases Recommendations

December 7, 2021
cattle grazing near wind turbines
Cattle graze near wind turbines in Wyoming. UW’s Ruckelshaus Institute led a Wyoming Renewable Energy Siting Collaborative that has released 10 recommendations for emerging wind and solar energy production in Wyoming while protecting the state’s scenery and wildlife. (Sue Jones Photo)

As energy markets respond to growing demand for low-carbon energy -- including from renewable resources -- Wyoming is becoming home to new utility-scale wind and solar power plants. How can Wyoming, with ample wind and solar resources, participate in these new markets while also protecting the state’s highly valued scenery, open spaces and wildlife habitat?

To discuss this and related questions, the Ruckelshaus Institute at the University of Wyoming convened a collaborative process to generate policy recommendations for consideration by state leadership. The Wyoming Renewable Energy Siting Collaborative has released 10 recommendations, now available at www.uwyo.edu/haub/renewable-siting.html.

The nine invited participants in the Wyoming Renewable Energy Siting Collaborative represented a diverse range of stakeholders and interests, including private landowners and ranchers; wildlife and environmental organizations; renewable energy trade associations; individual project developers; and county governments. The group met nine times between December 2020 and this past July.

The group’s conversations covered issues such as tax policy, federal/state revenue sharing, transmission development and supply-chain manufacturing. The group also learned from and consulted with experts from the Wyoming Industrial Siting Division, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust.

Following these conversations, the collaborative members agree there is room for Wyoming to improve aspects of siting and permitting renewable energy projects and to increase efficiency while conserving important natural habitats. With the understanding that any formal regulatory or policy change would only be made via official state processes that include public participation, the group agreed on 10 broad recommendations directed to state offices and specific to siting and permitting renewable energy generation facilities in Wyoming.

“I was very impressed with the depth of engagement from the collaborative members,” says Steve Smutko, Spicer Chair for Collaborative Practice at the Ruckelshaus Institute, who facilitated the process. “This is a very important and complex issue, and I hope state leaders will take these recommendations to heart as they consider how best to manage the renewable energy development that is coming to Wyoming.”

The Ruckelshaus Institute, a division of UW’s Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, advances the understanding and resolution of complex environmental and natural resources challenges and supports stakeholder-driven solutions to environmental challenges by conducting and communicating relevant research and promoting collaborative decision-making.

For more information about the Wyoming Renewable Energy Siting Collaborative recommendations, email Smutko at steve.smutko@uwyo.edu.

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