Company To Build $155 Million Solar Farm In Wyoming's 'Hail Alley'

Cowboy Energy and Portugal's Greenvolt Power have teamed up to build a $155 million solar farm near the farming community of Yoder, Wyoming. They say the 326,000 solar panels will be hail-resistant and will cover 1,200 acres.

Pat Maio

March 28, 20245 min read

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Building a $155 million solar farm with hundreds of solar panels in hail alley in southeastern Wyoming might seem a crazy idea for some.

Not Paul Stroud, a director of Cowboy Energy LLC, who sits in safely removed from the worst of the hail in Sheridan in the northern part of Wyoming.

Stroud cited a significant hailstorm that swept through a Scottsbluff, Nebraska, solar farm last summer that left behind ding marks and cracked panels when baseball-sized hail pounded the glassy panel surfaces.

Another report emerged out of the Houston area this month of splintered solar panels caused by big hail balls again.

Stroud, a four-decade veteran of developing geothermal projects around the globe, pooh-poohed on all of these concerns.

Cowboy Energy, based in Las Vegas but run by Stroud out of Sheridan, and his partner Hezy Ram, a geothermal and alternative energy expert, have teamed up with Portugal-based Greenvolt Power to build what they think will be a hail-resistant solar farm in Goshen County.

The backers of this Goshen Solar project plan to build nearly 326,000 solar panels spread over 1,200 acres, situated about 15 miles southwest of Yoder — about an hour’s drive northeast of the state’s capital city, Cheyenne.

And if the hail comes, no problem.

Bring It On

The panels will be thicker with ceramic super coatings and have better construction overall than the Nebraska hail-damaged panels, which were thinner.

Importantly, the Cowboy Energy and Greenvolt panels can be tipped over via computerized controls to protect them from the battering on panel surfaces from oversized hail balls, Stroud explained.

“It’ll be beneficial for ranchers,” said Stroud whose company has 17 solar farm projects in various stages of development.

The solar farm proposed by Cowboy Energy and Greenvolt is their first in Wyoming and would represent one of the largest agrivoltaics sites in the state.

Agrivoltaics is the use of land for both agriculture and solar photovoltaic energy generation.

It’s not a new concept in Wyoming.

Florida-based BrightNight LLC wants to develop its 500-megawatt solar farm near Glenrock, Wyoming, in a way to also allow sheep to graze on the same land.

Sheep Coming

Stroud is designing a similar system in Goshen County on the ranch of David Otto, who wants to bring in several hundred heads of sheep.

The beef cattle and other crops are struggling with a long-term drought in the region. But the solar panels help retain more water on the land for grazing sheep because the solar panels provide shade.

“We’ll be taking posts and pile driving them into the ground and leave a little extra height to let sheep graze under them,” Stroud said.

“Right now, we don’t have any sheep, but we’re still trying to figure that out based on optimal stocking rates per acre,” Otto told Cowboy State Daily. “We also want to help other farmers to graze sheep on our land during the growing season from May to October.”

Otto said that he may end up selling off some of his beef cattle herd of 130 if things work out with the sheep.

Otto also is working with the University of Wyoming’s College of Agriculture to start up a possible internship program for students to help with studies on the effects of rainfall on his 6,500-acre ranch that has been in his family’s hands since 1908.

The students also could provide research on native grasses before and after the panels are constructed, he said.

“I’m super-excited by the research opportunities and think we can do some cool things for the community,” he said.

Popping up

Solar farms have popped up all over Wyoming, but for Goshen County, this project will become the first to appear in the agricultural landscape known for its alfalfa, corn, hay and beef cattle.

“I’d say that in recent history, this is certainly one of the biggest construction projects to come here” said Brayden Connour, CEO of GO Goshen, the economic development agency for Goshen County based in Torrington.

The county will feel an infusion of taxes from the solar farm, which Connour described as “significant.”

“We’ll get a one-time hit of $8 million in sales and tax revenue,” along with $35 million in total property taxes, he said. “That’s huge.”

The project would create about 250 temporary workers during the construction phase that begins in 2025 and create eight to 10 permanent jobs once work is completed.

Temporary workers are projected to spend $6.6 million at local lodging, and $4 million on meals and incidentals.

The developers forecast about $26 million for the Goshen County School District and Eastern Wyoming College, in Torrington.

“That’s almost a million-a-year if you spread the $26 million [for education] over 30 years. That’s a real shot in the arm,” he said.

“For 12,000 to 13,000 people in the county, this is significant,” said Connour of Goshen County, considered one of the lowest ranking counties in Wyoming in terms of wealth.

Pat Maio can be reached at

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Pat Maio


Pat Maio is a veteran journalist who covers energy for Cowboy State Daily.