Huge 326,000 Panel Wyoming Solar Farm May Be Delayed Over Road Worries

A huge 326,000 solar panel project in Goshen County may encounter delays in construction because of a recent change in road and bridge permitting requirements and concerns about tearing up local roads.

Pat Maio

June 28, 20245 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

A solar project in Goshen County may encounter delays in construction because of lengthy negotiations over road and bridge permitting requirements with county government officials and concerns over tearing up roads in the eastern Wyoming county.

With growing interest from solar developers in the region, the permit talks are taking place on a separate track by the Goshen County Board of Commissioners to ensure these kinds of lengthy talks with alternative energy projects don’t run into similar kinds of snags.

Last week, the county's board of commissioners approved its first solar energy siting regulations.

These new regulations won’t impact the construction timeline for the solar project proposed by Cowboy Energy LLC, which is run by Sheridan businessman Paul Stroud and his partner Hezy Ram, who are geothermal and alternative energy experts.

They teamed up with Portugal-based Greenvolt Power to build a $155 million solar farm in Goshen County.

Cowboy Energy plans 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 Cheyenne.

Construction on the project was scheduled to begin this spring, but is delayed until possibly early next year because of the road and bridge permitting stipulation.

The permit ensures that the route to the project is returned to its original condition, said Michael Tietjen, Goshen County planning administrator.

Where Is It?

Cowboy Energy’s proposed project is located near the intersection of Goshen County Roads 44 and 15.

The access route to the project begins at Yoder, where the Union Pacific railroad has a railyard that Cowboy Energy plans to use to pick up steel I-beams and haul them over to the project 11 miles to the southwest..

From Yoder, the route to the project heads south along County Road 37, then cuts west over to Wyoming Highway 152, and finally west over to County Road 44 and the proposed project site.

“Our road and bridge people need to have a say on how the roads are used, and what they need to do to make sure they’re protected,” Tietjen said.

Wyoming’s Industrial Siting Council, the governmental body within the Department of Environmental Quality that considers new utility-scale power projects in the state, approved Cowboy Energy’s proposal last year.

After the project was approved with the state, it generally sailed through locally in Goshen County because there were no local siting regulations. The only snag was the road and bridge permitting negotiations and how much Cowboy Energy would pay to restore roads it planned to travel over for hauling materials to its construction site.

“They never came before the county because they had no need to come for the new solar energy siting regulations,” Tietjen said.

An illustration of the planned layout for the Goshen Solar project.
An illustration of the planned layout for the Goshen Solar project. (Cowboy Energy)

Water Over The Bridge

“The county has not approved an application. You can’t approve something if you don’t have a regulation,” Tietjen said. “People keep thinking they’ve approved it, but they haven’t approved anything. You can only just sit on the sidelines, and wave to them as the trucks go by because there are not regulations to enforce.”

The regulations came about after the fact, Tietjen explained.

“It’s water over the bridge,” he said. “They can’t bring their trucks and flatbeds carrying steel in without having a road agreement. It says you need to do this.”

Tietjen said all solar developers will have to seek approval for their projects from Goshen County commissioners after June 18, the effective date of the new solar energy siting regulations.

“I’ve had a few phone calls of people interested in wanting to know where our regulations stood, but nothing has actually been submitted formally,” he said.

Most counties in Wyoming don’t have solar energy siting regulations, Tietjen said, adding that, “Not every county has solar-friendly land.”

Some of the counties in Wyoming that have siting regulations for solar farms include Carbon, Laramie, Platte and Sweetwater.

Cowboy Energy isn’t the only project getting held up by a road improvement issue.

Canada energy firm Enbridge Inc.’s proposed $1.2 billion solar farm development in south Cheyenne has encountered delays with Laramie County officials over a dispute over who is to pay for a county-maintained road needed for the project that will power nearby social media giant Meta Platforms Inc.’s enterprise data center.

Meta, formerly known as Facebook and Instagram, is largely backed by co-founder billionaire Mark Zuckerberg.

Earlier this month, Gunnar Malm, vice chairman of the Laramie County Board of Commissioners, told Cowboy State Daily that the county recently hit a rough patch with Enbridge over the road widening and resurfacing needed for increased traffic along an 8-mile stretch of Chalk Bluff Road, where Wyoming’s largest utility-scale solar farm would be built.

Malm estimated that Enbridge would need to pay up to $15 million over a 7-mile corridor of the narrow county road that runs east off South Greeley Highway and another mile of a gravel road that runs north along the eastern edge of the proposed solar farm project.

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.