By Kevin Killough, Energy Reporter
Cowboy State Daily
Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins is one of a few local officials participating in a video series by Powering Up Wyoming that highlights the benefits of renewable energy for Cowboy State communities.
One video displays “How do you see wind supporting our legacy industries?” in white letters on a black background. It then cuts to Collins explaining that Wyoming loves its abundant coal, oil and natural gas resources.
“It’s carried the bill for us for decades, but consumers are making different decisions today,” Collins says. “And the demand for coal, oil and gas are going down.”
To be relevant in today’s energy market, Collins said Wyoming needs to pursue an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy.
“And wind is a very important part of that for Laramie County and Cheyenne,” he says.
In another video from August, Collins promotes renewable energy as a vehicle to keep young people in the state. Wyoming is getting “greyer,” Collins said, referring to the average age of the state’s population, which continues to climb.
“As we get older, we have to have the kind of industries that keep our kids here,” Collins says. “I want to see my grandkids raised here in Cheyenne.”
Chris Brown, executive director of Powering Up Wyoming, said the videos are part of an ongoing promotion. Future videos will include other parts of the interview with Collins, as well as interviews with other local officials from around the state, including Casper City Councilor Kyle Gamroth.
In one video featuring Gamroth, the councilmember talks of local revenue generation from wind projects like the Anticline Wind Project north of Casper, which he says would bring in tens of millions of dollars in local, state and property taxes over the next 30 years.
Collins told Cowboy State Daily that renewable projects are contributing heavily to Cheyenne revenues, such as the Roundhouse Wind Project west of the city, for example, which generates about $900,000 in annual revenue for the city.
Those types of revenues also ballooned one of the sales tax payments to the city to about $1.3 million, the mayor said.
“We were afraid to cash it because the number was so high,” Collins said. “We thought there might have been a mistake.”
Power Up Wyoming was founded in 2020 with the mission to promote wind, solar and electricity storage as part of a strategy to diversify the state’s energy economy.
“As demand for energy outside of our borders continues to evolve, Powering Up Wyoming is working hard to make sure that renewable energy — wind, solar and storage — are at the table with our legacy industries as part of an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy plan for Wyoming,” said Chris Brown, the group’s executive director.
Brown said Powering Up doesn’t advocate against traditional energy sources like oil, gas, nuclear and coal. Instead, it advocates on behalf of renewable energy industries to bring help diversify the state’s energy portfolio.
Brown said educating people on the benefits of renewable energy and debunking myths associated with it are a large part of what Power Up Wyoming does. It also works with decision-makers at state and local levels to keep renewable energy moving forward.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to ensure those decisions embrace renewable investment for communities and for the state,” Brown said.