Frequently Asked Questions
Roundhouse Renewable Energy, LLC (Roundhouse), is a partnership involving an indirect subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC (NextEra) and Enyo Renewable Energy, LLC (Enyo). NextEra is a clean energy leader and one of the largest wholesale generators of electric power in the United States. Enyo is an independent solar and wind company that specializes in developing utility-scale renewable energy projects in the Intermountain West.
The Roundhouse Renewable Energy project is a proposed 150-megawatt (MW) wind energy facility and transmission line that will deliver additional renewable energy to Platte River Power Authority’s (Platte River) owner communities (Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont and Loveland). The wind turbines will be located on 50,000 acres of private and state land southwest of Cheyenne in Laramie County, Wyoming. The 19-mile transmission line will be located in Laramie County, Wyoming as well as Larimer County and Weld County, Colorado. Roundhouse has been working with local, state and federal regulatory agencies in Colorado and Wyoming to obtain the necessary approvals to permit and construct the project. The wind energy facility and transmission line are expected to begin commercial operations at the end of 2020.
Electricity generated from the wind farm in Wyoming will be transmitted to the Rawhide Energy Station (Rawhide), north of Wellington, Colorado. Platte River owns and operates Rawhide and has committed to purchasing power from Roundhouse through a power purchase agreement (PPA). Platte River is a not-for-profit utility that generates and delivers safe, reliable, environmentally responsible, and competitively priced energy and services to its owner communities. Platte River will use the power generated by Roundhouse Renewable Energy to meet the needs of customers within its service area.
As currently planned, Roundhouse Renewable Energy will have 150 MW of capacity. In 2017, wind power comprised about 11 percent of the electricity Platte River sent to its four owner-municipalities. Roundhouse would nearly triple Platte River’s wind capacity.
Roundhouse Renewable Energy will use approximately 75 turbines. The size and manufacturer will be determined later in 2019.
Platte River has the option to add up to 75 MW of additional wind capacity.
The turbines will be connected to each other and to an on-site substation via underground collector lines. From the project substation in Wyoming, a new overhead single-circuit, 230-kV capable transmission line would carry the project’s power output approximately 19 miles south to Rawhide in Larimer County, Colorado. Approximately 5.6 miles of the transmission line would be located in Wyoming, and approximately 13.4 miles would be located in Colorado, mostly on the City of Fort Collins’ Meadow Springs Ranch property.
The transmission line will consist of self-supporting steel monopole structures, angle structures, and dead-end structures ranging in height from 80 to 135 feet, with the span lengths of 800 feet, on average. Renderings of the proposed line are available at the following link.
The Roundhouse wind farm project area currently consists of ranching land leased from public and private landowners in Wyoming, including the DuckCreek Grazing Association (DCGA). DCGA is an association of families who share in the ownership of the ranch and jointly manage their permitted livestock and the range resources. The proposed transmission line would be largely sited on City of Fort Collins’ Meadow Springs Ranch in Colorado. The City of Fort Collins manages Meadow Springs Ranch for cattle grazing, regulatory-compliant biosolids disposal, and wildlife habitat.
The Roundhouse leases allow landowners to maintain control of their land and continue to raise cattle within the project area. Following construction, the footprint for each turbine and transmission line structure will be small. Areas disturbed during construction will be re-seeded with native vegetation and pasture grasses at the request of the landowners. Thus, the properties will continue to be used for ranching during operation of the Roundhouse project.
Over the course of a year, the project will generate an amount of electricity equivalent to the annual energy needs of approximately 70,500 homes. This carbon free electricity could fuel:
- 100% of all of the homes in Fort Collins (65,518) plus Estes Park (3,140) based on the 2015 American Community Survey; OR
- 100% of all of the homes in Loveland (30,269) and Longmont (35,538); OR
Enough carbon free electricity for half of all of the homes in these four cities.
Cheyenne and Laramie County, Wyoming: Roundhouse will generate millions of dollars in tax revenue for Laramie County to support local services such as schools, roads, police protection, fire protection, and other essential government services. The project will pay the Wyoming wind generation tax, which will be split between Laramie County and the State of Wyoming. Landowners within the project area, including the City of Cheyenne (Belvoir Ranch) and State of Wyoming, will benefit from the revenue generated by wind turbines on their land. It is currently anticipated that the project will provide over 200 jobs during construction and 11 permanent, full-time operations and maintenance jobs after completion. Local labor and materials will be used whenever possible.
Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont and Loveland, Colorado: Completion of the Roundhouse project will be a significant step toward achieving renewable energy goals for all Platte River owner communities, including the Fort Collins Climate Action Plan and Longmont’s renewable energy standard. Local governments will further benefit from payments for the transmission line easement and from property taxes.
Roundhouse studied wildlife use and habitat in the project area to evaluate potential impacts associated with construction and operation of the project. The preferred transmission line route has the shortest distance through mapped black-tailed prairie dog colonies, including those that were active in 2017 and areas designated for active management/conservation. Black-tailed prairie dog colonies also provide habitat for other sensitive species, such as burrowing owl, mountain plover, and black-footed ferret. Black-footed ferrets have been reintroduced into prairie dog colonies in the area. The City of Fort Collins has a Safe Harbor Agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to conserve the species. Pre-construction surveys will be conducted for black-footed ferrets and appropriate protection measures will be implemented if the species is identified.
The project area provides habitat for mule deer and pronghorn, particularly important winter habitat. The preferred route has the shortest distance through mule deer winter concentration areas and severe winter range. Coordination with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is ongoing to conserve big game and other wildlife species and habitats.
The preferred route avoids siting within a 100-foot buffer of perennial and ephemeral surface water features, wetlands, and riparian vegetation communities. These communities contain suitable habitat for rare plant species, northern leopard frogs, sensitive fish species, and potentially Preble’s meadow jumping mouse. No federally listed species have been documented in the project area and appropriate consultation with USFWS would occur if a listed species was identified.
Based on avian surveys completed to date, there appears to be limited use of the project site by bald and golden eagles. The most commonly observed raptors in the project area include red-tailed hawk, rough-legged hawk, northern harrier, and American kestrel. Ferruginous hawk, Swainson’s hawk, and great horned owl have also been documented. Common passerines observed in the project area include horned larks and western meadowlarks. Four sensitive grassland obligate bird species have been documented, or have potential to occur in the project area: lark bunting, McCown’s longspur, chestnut-collared longspur, and mountain plover. The preferred route does not cross chestnut-collared longspur or mountain plover mapped habitats. Known raptor nests will be avoided during the siting process. They will be avoided with seasonal and distance buffers, as appropriate for the species. The preferred route crosses a distance of 0.47 mile within 0.25 mile of a known raptor nest.
The project is being developed with landowners and Federal and state agencies to minimize impacts to natural resources, including wildlife. For example, the project’s transmission line will be designed according to Avian Power Line Interaction Committee (APLIC) standards, thereby avoiding or minimizing the potential for avian collisions. Roundhouse is preparing a Bird and Bat Conservation Strategy in consultation with Federal and state agencies to identify effective avoidance and protection measures.
Roundhouse has been working with landowners, Platte River, Larimer County, Weld County, and the City of Fort Collins Utility and Natural Areas staff, and their respective citizen boards throughout this process.
- Elected officials and Planning Commissions at Larimer County and Weld County will review the project and hold public hearingsfollowing submittal of the 1041 permit applications. Larimer County Hearings are planned for February and March 2019. A siting study to determine the preferred transmission line route was completed in 2018.Biological, visual, and cultural resource surveys and other supporting environmental analysis were completed during the summer of 2018.
- A transmission line easement will be executed by willing landowners and RHRE.
- The City of Fort Collins conducted a public outreach process for the easement across Meadow Springs Ranch, in conjunction with public outreach for the necessary permits in Larimerand Weld
The wind farm and other infrastructure located in Wyoming are being permitted separately by the Department of Environmental Quality – Industrial Siting Division and Laramie County. The project falls under the jurisdiction of the Wyoming Industrial Siting Act. That process seeks input from every State agency in Wyoming, as well as impacted communities and counties, as identified by the Industrial Siting Division. In the case of Roundhouse, the impacted areas include the City of Cheyenne and Laramie County.
The transmission poles will be single circuit.
The transmission line will consist of single-pole, self-supporting steel monopole structures, angle structures, and dead end structures. Monopole structures will range in height from 80 to 130 feet, depending on length of span. The typical span length between transmission structures is 800 feet, but longer spans of 1,000 feet can be achieved to span environmental or sensitive resources.
State Statutes allow local governments to designate certain areas and activities of state interest and require permits for development involving those areas and activities. In both Larimer and Weld Counties, a 1041 Permit is required prior to conducting any activity that has been designated as a Matter of State Interest (power plants, solar energy power plants, transmission lines, pipelines, etc.). In Larimer County, a 1041 permit application may be approved only when the applicant has satisfactorily demonstrated that the proposed project complies with all of the applicable criteria defined in the regulations. These criteria include demonstrating that the project is consistent with the policies contained in the County master plan and that the benefits of the project “outweigh” any adverse effects. The 1041 process includes hearings before the Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners and a Final Development Plan, if approved, which defines Conditions of Approval, Development Agreement, and other relevant conditions.
Upon approval of these permits, a utilities easement will be negotiated with the City of Fort Collins.
A thorough Siting Study was completed that resulted in a recommendation for a preferred transmission line route. The Siting Study process includes an analysis of the existing policy framework and guidance; data collection; development of evaluation criteria, development of alternatives, and evaluation of alternatives based on the evaluation criteria. Through this process, three alternative routes were developed and fully analyzed and several additional routes were initially considered. The results of the evaluation are documented in a Siting Study Report with detailed mapping for the alternative transmission routes.
The preferred alternative was selected because it has the lowest overall level of conflict with the evaluation criteria. Among other considerations, the preferred alternative has the following advantages:
- Has the lowest or equal conflicts with vegetation and surface water, wildlife, raptors, visual resources, land uses, cultural resources, and engineering criteria.
- Avoids siting structures within a 100-foot buffer of perennial and ephemeral surface water features, wetlands, and riparian vegetation communities. Requires one crossing of a riparian area.
- Shortest distance through mapped black-tailed prairie dog colonies, pronghorn winter concentration areas, and mule deer winter concentration areas and severe winter range.
In addition, the preferred alternative is the shortest route with the fewest angle structures and it parallels existing linear infrastructure for most of its length.
Enyo has partnered with NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, a clean energy leader and one of the largest wholesale generators of electric power in the U.S. NextEra Energy Resources has with more than 19,000 MW of net generating capacity, primarily in 32 states and Canada as of year-end 2017. Enyo will have a long-term vested financial interest in the Roundhouse Renewable Energy project. It is common for there to be a change in ownership in the lifecycle of a renewable energy project. NextEra Energy Resources, together with its affiliated entities, is the world’s largest operator of renewable energy from the wind and sun. NextEra Energy Resources, LLC is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Florida-based NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE). For more information, visit www.NextEraEnergyResources.com
This is the only open house related specifically to the transmission line in Colorado. There will be an open house in Wyoming related to the wind farm. There will be opportunity to comment throughout the process via the Project website at http://roundhouse-renewable.com/ In addition, there will be hearings before the Larimer County Planning Commission, BOCC and City Council.
No additional transmission lines or easements are anticipated.
Pre-construction surveys will be conducted as required for certain species. If species are identified during pre-construction surveys, appropriate mitigation measures will be implemented in conjunction with USFWS, CPW and/or the City of Fort Collins. These mitigation measures may include avoidance of sensitive areas, seasonal restrictions on construction activities, and other appropriate measures. In addition, best practices will be implemented, including minimizing the area disturbed and restoring any areas disturbed by construction.