The Christian Science Monitor

Why coal-rich Wyoming is investing big in wind power

Bill Miller stands at the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project, just outside Rawlins, Wyo., where he is overseeing construction of what is slated to be the largest wind farm in the United States. Source: Amanda Paulson/The Christian Science Monitor

It’s a sunny day in early November in southern Wyoming, but the wind is blowing so hard that opening a car door is a chore. Signs on the interstate warn of gusts topping 70 miles per hour, and semi trucks have pulled over all along I-80. It’s difficult to hear a word Bill Miller says as he steps out of his truck at the top of a rise on the Overland Trail Ranch to describe the development taking place on the expanse below him.

Of course, that fierce wind is exactly what makes this pocket of the West so desirable for that development. The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project is slated to become the largest wind farm in the United States once it’s up and running. And it’s causing some in Wyoming – a state whose economy has been devastated by the decline of its bedrock fossil fuel industries – to rethink their attitude toward renewable energy.

The 3,000-megawatt project near Rawlins is emblematic of a growing industry that is hitting its stride, and is fueled less by ideology than by economics. Gone are the days when wind power advocacy fell exclusively to liberals and environmental advocates. As the economics of

Economic senseSeeing hope in the windBeyond the coal v. wind mentality

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