CNET News reporter Daniel Terdiman visits the Glenrock Wind Farm, a project built on the site of a former coal mine, on Road Trip 2009.
Turbines in line
Wind turbines stand in a graceful line at the Glenrock Wind Farm, which is run by Rocky Mountain Power, a division of PacifiCorp. Consisting of 158 turbines that each produce 1.5 megawatts of power, the farm is capable of turning out 237 megawatts, which is enough power for about 66,800 residential customers in a year.
While the wind farm itself is notable for its having been built in 2008 and 2009, and thus using the very latest turbine technology from General Electric, it is likely to be better known because of where it is. For decades, the site was the home of the Dave Johnston Mine, a highly productive coal mine, also run by Rocky Mountain Power.
But in 1999, reclamation efforts began on the mine, and in 2000 it produced its last coal. And until 2005, the land was the site of a massive cleanup initiative with the goal of returning the land to the way it was--or at least as close as possible.
Because Rocky Mountain Power already owned the land, and because of its close proximity to existing transmission lines, as well as the strength of the wind in the area, the site was chosen to house the Glenrock, Rolling Hills, and Glenrock III wind farms, which collectively are called the Glenrock Wind Farm.
CNET News reporter Daniel Terdiman visited the site as part of Road Trip 2009.
A photo of an aerial view of the former Dave Johnston mine, which was 9 miles long. It operated from 1958 until 2000 and produced 104 million tons of coal.
As part of the reclamation project, miles of land were reseeded with native vegetation, all in an effort to return the landscape to its pre-mining appearance, according to Rocky Mountain Power. More than 85 million yards of earth were moved to accomplish the feat.
During the reclamation project, the entire 4,700 acres where mining operations took place were reseeded with native vegetation. While this picture shows barren hillsides, the property is now covered in 21 different varieties of vegetation, including warm season grasses, cold season grasses, shrubs and more.
A "stop sign" like this was installed underneath each of the 158 turbines. Because the wind farm property was formerly a coal mine, the land is not as compacted as it would have been otherwise. That's why these huge concrete bases, each weighing 1.6 million pounds, are a favorite way of balancing the turbines and ensuring they don't topple in the wind.
Just one section of the 158-turbine Glenrock Wind Farm, as it looks today. One notable achievement is that the former coal mine is almost impossible to see. If you didn't know it was there, you would have no idea.
A legacy sign from the days when the property was a coal mine. Today, the reclamation of the mine is considered done, though the land must be examined every year until 2017 to ensure that everything is the way it's supposed to be.
One thing that hasn't changed about the former Dave Johnston Mine site--now the Glenrock Wind Farm--is that it is still heavily populated by pronghorned antelope, seen here running across the property.
One of the major goals of the reclamation project was to return the land as close as possible to what it was like before the coal mine opened. This is a look out at the land, where it is almost impossible to tell that the mine was ever there.
Throughout the property, these rock piles--complete with native grasses--can be found. They are little springs and hiding places for rabbits, foxes, ground squirrels and other small animals that roam the wind farm property. They were installed as part of the reclamation project.
Wyoming is becoming a major location for wind farms, partly because of the strength of the wind, and also because of having so much wide open land and existing transmission lines. The day after CNET News reporter Daniel Terdiman visited the Glenrock Wind Farm, the local newspaper featured a front-page headline about a new, large-scale wind farm that will be installed nearby.