By Associated Press - Friday, November 6, 2020

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming regulators have voted to deny a renewable energy company a lease to build a wind farm on state land.

The decision on Thursday by the State Land Board came after citizens expressed concern that the development would ruin scenic views in the area.

The Texas-based renewable energy developer ConnectGen had applied to lease 7.5 square miles (19.4 square kilometers) of state land to construct part of its 500 megawatt Rail Tie wind project, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

The state would have received $480,000 a year for leasing the land to the company, said Amanda MacDonald, the project manager of the wind farm.

ConnectGen said the project could have created 136 direct jobs during its 35-year lifespan. The company also said its wind project could have generated about $133 million in tax revenue for Albany County and $45 million for the state over the 35-year period.

The director of the Office of State Lands and Investments had recommended that the board approve the land lease on the basis that “no substantive impairments” were found to affect grazing and agricultural activities.

A group of Albany County residents had worried that the new facility would negatively affect their views, private property values and tourism.

ConnectGen said it anticipates continuing the project on private land.

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