The parent company of Rocky Mountain Power is set to expand its existing wind energy fleet by 60 percent as it develops three new wind farms in Wyoming.

Part of PacifiCorp's Energy Vision 2020 initiative, which will also include a 140-mile high-voltage transmission line in Wyoming, the new developments will provide an additional 1,150 megawatts of wind energy.

The company expects between 1,100 and 1,600 construction jobs to be created while work is underway. The finished developments will require roughly 100 full-time jobs, spokeswoman Tiffany Erickson said. The company expects work to be completed by the end of next year.

"Today's achievement is an important milestone in a long history of PacifiCorp's investment in Wyoming," Gary Hoogeveen, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Power, said Wednesday during a groundbreaking ceremony in Hanna.

"Working in partnership with community leaders and active citizens, we continue to forge new ways to maintain Wyoming's place as a national powerhouse in energy production," Hoogeveen added.

The initiative will also see existing wind turbines in Converse and Carbon counties "repowered" as the company fits them with longer blades and newer technology.

The company expects Wyoming to reap significant tax revenue from the projects. Construction should bring roughly $120 million in tax revenue, the company says, and post-construction annual tax revenues should grow from $11 million in 2021 to $14 million by 2024.

Both the new wind farms and the existing developments set to be improved are expected to provide energy for 30 years, Erickson said.

PacifiCorp says it has steadily increased its use of renewable energy sources over the past several years, with one-third of its electric generation capacity coming from zero-emitting plants.

"Energy Vision 2020 helps create a cleaner energy future for Pacific Power and Rocky Mountain Power customers while keeping their energy bills affordable. It is a key part of our 2017 Integrated Resources Plan to meet customers' energy needs over the next 20 years," the company states on its website.

"I am deeply concerned to learn about this path that Rocky Mountain power is moving down," Governor Mark Gordon said in April. "This has significant impacts on all of Wyoming and revenue for schools and other services we all depend on. It also means a loss of jobs and changing people's lives."

Gordon issued that statement in response to a PacifiCorp announcement that the company may decide to retire some units of coal-fired power plants early, possibly as soon as 2022. The company is considering closing units one and two at the Naughton plant as well as units one and two at the Jim Bridger plant, both located in Wyoming.

Gordon said those two plants combined, along with the coal mines which supply them with fuel, employ hundreds of people. One unit at the Naughton plant was closed in January.

"The potential for early retirements of some coal-fired power plants means we drift further away from finding solutions for reducing carbon emissions at all coal-fired power plants, those plants in Wyoming and across the globe," Gordon said in April. "I will be very engaged with Rocky Mountain Power over the coming months as they move towards finalizing decisions."

The company said it would not make any decisions on potential closures until its 2019 Integrated Resource Plan, which identifies actions the company plans to take over the next two decades, is completed in August.

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