Despite an Arctic blast and heavy snowfall blanketing Laramie County, a Canada pipeline and energy company wants to build a sprawling solar power farm that could power Wyoming industry.
The gambit is the largest investment in the state for energy giant Enbridge Inc. since it built a pipeline to carry crude oil across Wyoming.
Under the proposal, hundreds of temporary jobs could be created to build tens of thousands of solar panels located on private land located southeast of Cheyenne. Beginning in early 2025, construction could take two years to complete the nearly 4,000-acre solar farm, according to a permit application filed with the state.
The proposed 771-megawatt solar power facility – called the Cowboy Solar Project – could also generate enough electricity to light up more than 771,000 homes, more than in all of Wyoming.
Power For Industry
The proposal offered by the energy firm, however, designates the power for large industrial corporate customers in Wyoming and not homeowners, according to the application.
Alberta-based Enbridge, which already is one of the largest transporters of oil and natural gas in the United States, wants to build the solar power farm in two phases.
The foray represents Enbridge’s largest into the solar field in Wyoming.
An Enbridge spokesman could not immediately comment on the proposed project.
Enbridge’s only other presence in Wyoming includes the Express-Platte pipeline that transports crude oil from western Canada to refineries in the U.S. Rockies region. The main delivery point of crude through the pipeline in Casper.
Solar Growing In Wyoming
When complete, the Enbridge project would be one of the largest utility-scale solar farms in Wyoming.
A proposed solar farm near Glenrock will cover more than 4,700 acres bordering the North Platte River and, when online, promises to produce 500 megawatts of power. It also will feature raised solar panels so sheep can graze under them and use the same land.
The Cowboy State’s budding solar industry also includes the 950-acre, 150 MW South Cheyenne Solar Project, which broke ground last spring in southeast Laramie County.
Enbridge has been an early investor in renewable energy and has a growing offshore wind portfolio.
Enbridge has committed more than $6 billion to renewable energy and power transmission projects currently in operation or under construction.
These projects have the capacity to generate 5,304 MW of energy and include 15 solar energy operations, according to the company’s permit application.
South Of Cheyenne
In the application filed with the state, the proposed project area is located on private lands in unincorporated Laramie County, about 4 miles southeast of Cheyenne.
The project area, totaling 3,845 acres, is located east of U.S. Highway 85 and both north and south of Chalk Bluff Road and County Road 203.
The project has been split into two construction phases.
Construction on Cowboy Solar 1 is expected to begin in March 2025, with commercial operation commencing in January 2027.
Commercial operation for Phase II is expected to begin in August 2027.
Enbridge estimates that the onsite workforce will have a monthly average of 285 temporary workers, with a peak workforce of 375 workers in April 2025.
In the permit application, Enbridge states that it wants to create a positive financial impact in the state. In 2022, Enbridge paid more than $2.4 million in property tax for pipelines and related facilities in Wyoming, $120,300 in sales and use taxes, and $47,300 in payroll taxes.
Additionally, Enbridge employed 35 Wyoming-based permanent and temporary employees and contractors and paid $3.3 million in wages. Enbridge also invested more than $40 million in capital expenditures and $36,500 in community grants in the state.
The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality Industrial Siting Division plans a case hearing on Enbridge’s application for a permit for the Cowboy Solar Project on March 25.
Pat Maio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.