The future of a planned wind project between Albany and Carbon counties is now in question.
The result of that could mean the loss of $5 million “impact assistance” funding that governments in Carbon and Albany counties were set to receive from the state.
That funding is provided from the state to local governments to offset the impact on social services of big industrial projects like wind farms.
“At this point, it’s my understanding the project has ceased or stopped pertaining to some issues of the transmission of power,” Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent said during a Tuesday meeting of the county commissioners.
Originally, Albany County governments were set to receive $8.4 million from the state, with Rock River and Albany County receiving the lion’s share.
Payments were stopped this year when work on the wind farm was suspended amid a contract dispute between Rocky Mountain Power and Boswell Wind, LLC.
The wind project is located about 10 miles northeast of Rock River and originally called for 170 wind turbines to be erected on 21,569 acres. However, even before work stopped, the project was reduced to 80 turbines with higher capacities.
As a result, governments in Albany and Carbon counties have tentatively agreed to receive fewer impact assistance funds as a result of the down-sized project. However, the payments will only continue once — or if — the project resumes.
If the project does resume, in turn leading to a return of impact assistance payments, local governments in Albany County will ultimately receive $7.2 million, according to a memorandum of understanding that county commissioners signed off on this week.
The Industrial Siting Council will still need to approve that revised MOU, Trent said.
The new payment plan calls for Albany County to receive a total of $2.7 million, Rock River to receive $3.3 million and Laramie to receive $1.2 million.
Originally, Albany County was scheduled to receive $3.4 million, Rock River was scheduled to receive $3.8 million and Laramie was supposed to receive $1.3 million.
Payments from the project led Albany County to budget for the hiring of four more sheriff’s deputies in 2018 after monthly payments of $337,633 began in August 2018.
Earlier this month, state officials decided that Albany County governments will receive $3.1 million in impact assistance funds from a separate $1 billion wind project on that’s still progressing on the border of Albany and Carbon counties.