A potential solar energy project in southwest Wyoming obtained a permit last week moving it a step closer to construction. The Sweetwater Solar Energy Project, to be located near Green River, would be the largest the state’s ever seen, providing 80 megawatts of generating capacity to the electrical grid. That’s enough to power almost 12,000 homes each year, according to a project description given to the Bureau of Land Management.
Sweetwater County commissioners unanimously voted to support the project. It would be built on approximately 703 acres with 638 of them on federal land. Deborah Reyes, a senior director of development for 174 Power Global, the company behind Sweetwater Solar, said the approved permit delved into how wildlife and other factors might be impacted.
"It’s very heavy on wildlife studies, mitigation during construction. There's specific attention being paid to birds and bats as well as some of the native big animals such as bighorn sheep and pronghorn… there’s also an economic study,” she said.
The federal permit application looks very similar. Even if that was granted tomorrow, Reyes said construction would still have to wait until the summer.
"Our permits support [a] construction window that starts July 1st and then it runs through the middle of November with the potential of two week extensions,” and Reyes said, "that depends heavily on the wildlife activity in that area."
The project has been in motion for more than three years. The site in Sweetwater County was chosen due to its open space and proximity to power-hungry energy operations. 174 Power Global expects an approved federal permit in June. That would allow construction to begin on July 1st with an end date before 2019.