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Wyoming wonders what to do with obsolete wind turbines

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What with wonders obso Wyoming

Wyoming has hundreds of wind turbines in place or under construction, but it's not clear what happens to them after they wear out.

State Sen. Jim Anderson, a Glenrock Republican, said this week that decommissioning the turbines is a major concern.

Anderson serves on a legislative task force looking at decommissioning and other issues.

Wyoming currently has no standard for setting aside money to deal with obsolete turbines and related facilities.

Most turbines have 20-year warranties and power-purchase agreements, but wind energy developers expect the machines to last longer.

The Casper Star-Tribune reported Thursday that about 290 turbines were built in the state in the past year, and about 160 more are under construction.

Archived comments

Cash for turbine clunkers?


7/30/2009 9:04:16 AM

Umm - hasn't the concept of "recycling" taken hold north of the state border? Maybe just dump them somewhere and them let it be known they contain copper wiring - the 'recyclers' will come to you.


7/30/2009 9:04:54 AM


I'm confused: Aren't wind farms normally developed by private entities? (I assume with substantial government cooperation, but the turbines are owned and operated usually by cooperatives formed by energy companies.) Why would the state be on the hook for their disposal/decommission?

As a side note, a fun day trip is go up to the northern edge of Weld County and exploring the massive wind farms along the Wyoming border in the Pawnee National Grassland. It's fascinating, beautiful landscape and the turbines are really cool to watch.


7/30/2009 9:17:57 AM

Funny how you think wind turbines out in the (formerly) beautiful great plains are "cool."

The replacement costs and eventually when technology changes (or America comes to her senses) these big ugly noisy pieces of junk will litter the landscape. The cost of taking them down, cleaning up the transmission lines, and disposing of all that material will be funded by....whom?


7/30/2009 10:21:46 AM

The task force is likely to recommend a sensible bonding policy. Kudos to the Wyoming legislators for looking ahead. Colorado should follow suit.

One option is for all wind developers to pay into a statewide fund to ensure "orphaned" turbines are covered by the industry rather than taxpayers; another is sufficient bonding for each individual turbine. Its not like we need to reinvent the wheel here. The renewables industry can get ahead of the curve and establish its own responsible policies on bonding & reclamation -- learning from the problems that plague the fossil fuels industry and staking out a position that green power on-the-grid will be green on-the-ground.

Unlike abandoned gas wells or hardrock mines, turbines pose minimal or zero risks to contaminate water or soils.


7/30/2009 10:48:42 AM

Wow! The answer is too easy. Send them to Washington, D.C. There's enough wind, coming out of that place, to power half of the eastern seaboard.


7/30/2009 10:50:01 AM

This article wins the obtuseness award. I assume "obsolete" means nonfunctional? How would decommissioning these turbines differ from decommissioning a gas- or coal- fired generating plant? Why isn't the entity who installed them responsible for their removal? Don't they contain any recyclable or reusable materials? Why should state money be required? I see that the article has an AP byline. Could it be our Daily Camera editors put their special incomprehensible voodoo on it?


7/30/2009 11:51:24 AM

A wind turbine is nothing more than magnets on one side, rotating past coils of wire on the other side.

How does that become obsolete?

When it wears out, replace it, recycle it, or rebuild it.

Another complete waste of time, worthless story, written by morons for pinheads.


7/30/2009 11:54:51 AM

I agree tomcat, I usually go up to Pawnee Buttes once or twice a year. In 2006, there was still nothing but prairie as you looked north. In 2007 the towers were going up and in 2008 they were all online and operating. In my opinion, they aren't the prettiest things to look at. Neither was the giant gas pipeline going in a hairs breadth north of the CO-WY border. I am not anti-turbine, but they are not all romantic.

That all being said, that is where the resource is, and if we are going to be using wind power it DOES have to go in someones backyard.

On the plus side, the few people who live there now have cell phone service across a wide area, and a few much needed jobs.


7/30/2009 12:08:32 PM

Coal or gas-fired plants last longer (Valmont is going on 80 years). These plants, because of their location, can be renovated into something else (e.g., The Power Plant at Baltimore's Inner Harbor has been renovated to include restaurants, etc.)

What is not mentioned in this article is that Wyoming wants operators to post a bond so that if the operator goes out of business, there will be funds to "decommission" the wind turbines (HB 314). The decommissioning includes removal, revegetation, restoration of the prairie, etc. Currently, the Oil and Gas industry is required to do the same for well pads; i.e., bonding and restoration.


7/30/2009 12:42:28 PM

Really, really big lawn mowers.


7/30/2009 1:01:55 PM

Ferris Wheels! Yippiee!


7/30/2009 1:30:42 PM

Salad Shooters?


7/30/2009 1:53:01 PM

Nice alliteration.


7/30/2009 1:58:33 PM

Sell them all to the Boulder City Council for millions more than they are worth and then install them in open space so they can provide "green" air-conditioning for the prairie dogs.


7/30/2009 2:05:38 PM

Ceiling fans for some of the McMansions around town.


7/30/2009 2:07:48 PM

zone, you beat me too it. I'm sure the city of Boulder can find a use for these involving providing habitat for displaced prarie dogs.


7/30/2009 2:28:58 PM



7/30/2009 2:52:37 PM

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