May 12--CHEYENNE -- Corporate owners of a northern Colorado wind farm are looking to sell the property before fully committing to the removal of idle turbines there.
Xcel Energy, which owns the Ponnequin wind farm south of Cheyenne near Carr, Colorado, plans to let the site remain dormant until at least this fall.
If no one buys the land by then, the company will begin decommissioning work next spring, according to Mark Stutz, Xcel Energy media representative.
While there is no information available yet on how long the process would take, the company is hoping to revitalize the wind farm through new ownership.
"We have had some interest over the years, but nothing that has yet ended in a sale," Stutz said. "We will continue to look for a buyer."
Stutz did not disclose the sale's financial details.
The site is visible from many parts of Cheyenne, with some wondering what's next.
"It was a couple of years ago they said they were still figuring it out," said Laramie County resident Sam Cooke, who said he has a clear view of the turbines from his hillside property on the border. "I don't find it particularly attractive to stare at if it's not getting any use."
Xcel Energy owns 37 of the 44 turbines at Ponnequin, which could generate approximately 30 megawatts of electricity, Stutz said. The wind farm is made up of both 650-kilowatt and 750-kilowatt turbines.
The turbines were installed in phases from 1998-2001. The facility was officially shut down on Dec. 31, 2015.
The turbines were projected to have a 15-year lifespan, and the site made it 18 years before the company decided to end operations, citing challenges finding parts and performing maintenance as the turbines aged.
The lifespan of the average wind turbine is 20-25 years.
In Wyoming, decommissioning plans must include removal of the "turbines, towers, substations, buildings, cabling, electrical components, foundations to a depth of (48) inches, and any other associated or ancillary equipment or structures within the facility boundary above and below ground," according to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.
This is often done with the use of dynamite and waste removal, but Xcel has not announced how it plans to clear this site, which is on the Colorado side of the border. Some wind farm owners use more environmentally friendly decommissioning efforts -- forming assembly lines to slowly remove each turbine.
Xcel Energy has promised to completely restore the land to its original state.
Because Ponnequin spans government and private land, decommissioning can be challenging, which is why the site has remained dormant for more than two years.
Stutz said Xcel's timeline is, as always, subject to change.
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