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Laramie County commissioners approve plans for new 900-acre solar panel facility

The 150-megawatt solar farm will be located about nine miles south of Cheyenne on U.S. Highway 85 on unincorporated county land.


CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Construction of a new 900-acre solar facility is getting the green light following action from Laramie County commissioners on Tuesday.

The 150-megawatt solar farm will be located about 9 miles south of Cheyenne on U.S. Highway 85 on unincorporated county land. The area includes 1,392 acres of private and state-leased property.

The project will also include a 2.5-mile generational interconnect, which consists of short transmission lines from the generating solar farm to the transmission system to a new substation that will be built by Black Hills Energy.

South Cheyenne Solar LLC, the company spearheading the project, is a subsidiary of Hanwha Q Cells USA Corp., which is headquartered in Irvine, California.

During their Tuesday meeting, commissioners approved the LLC’s application to construct the facility, its site plan and the company’s request for a public hearing to connect the solar facility to the electric grid.

With the approval, commercial operations can begin in December 2023. Construction is expected to cost $164.4 million and the finished farm will power approximately 30,000 U.S homes, according to Demi Gastouniotis, project developer for QCells.

Speaking to the commissioners, Gastouniotis said the facility will also bring economical benefits to the county, including generating approximately $8.3 million in sales taxes and nearly $23.1 million in property taxes over the 20-year life of the project.

The project will also create up to 182 construction jobs and one full-time job.

Commissioner Buck Holmes asked if the company will be able to utilize the county’s nearby wind farm infrastructures left over from previous projects.

Gastouniotis said their land is not part of any previous solar or wind farm project and the company is constructing an “entirely new” infrastructure.

Commissioner Linda Heath said there has been controversy in the county about how the blades for wind turbines are being disposed of. She asked how the company plans to dispose of the solar field once they are decommissioned.

“Is it going into a landfill, is it ‘Let’s go grind them up and recycle them into something else?'” she said during the meeting. “What are we doing with them?”

Gastouniotis said the solar equipment does not have hazardous or toxic materials and will be “properly” disposed of when the time comes.

“They’re broken apart, you have different components like the glass that’s disposed of properly in landfills or appropriate facilities,” she said.