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wind power, wind turbines, clean power plan

New West Daily Roundup for Oct. 7, 2016

Today in New West news: construction underway on CSM road, ARCOM acquired by San Francisco firm, and 2017 Denver rents.

For the past decade, give or take, Denver-based Power Company of Wyoming has been trying to get their proposed 1,000 turbine farm, the Chockecherry and Sierra Madre (CSM) Wind Energy Project up and running and have encountered obstacle after obstacle. Most recently, the PCW warned that work on the project could be delayed or even suspended outright if Wyoming raised its wind tax. While some criticized the company for its stance on the tax, the Legislature listened, ultimately striking down a proposed hike.

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Now, according to the Wyoming Business Report, more good news seems to be in order for the CSM farm, as crews start road construction in the Chokecherry area. You can see the plan above, courtesy of the WBR. From the WBR:

“We want to do this right,” Kara Choquette, director of communications for Power Company Wyoming, said in an interview on-site at their construction office in the heart of the ranch land. “We want to make this a project that people can be proud of. We want to be good stewards of the land.”

Wyoming is a land of vast spaces. The sagebrush ripples under a steady breeze in the currently empty landscape of the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project, save for the distant black shapes of a herd of cows and a smaller herd of antelope grazing nearby. There’s nothing to see yet, but in just a few short years, this ranch land will be overseen by a new addition — close to 500 wind turbines.

“Today we are very appreciative and feel very fortunate to have excellent support from the Carbon County Commissioners, from the municipalities, from local economic development organizations,” Choquette said. “Everyone’s learned a lot about wind development.”

The winds have the potential to blow good fortune into Wyoming: under current tax laws the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project will generate around $800 million in tax revenue for the state of Wyoming, as well as create 114 permanent, full-time operations and maintenance jobs by the time the $5 billion project is completed.

Of the $232.4 million in sales and use tax estimated to be generated, 53 percent — around $123 million — will stay in Carbon County. The remainder heads to the state’s general fund ($106.9 million) and other wind generating counties in the state, like Albany, Natrona and Sweetwater.

Carbon County and Rawlins currently both stand to gain more than $49 million from the $232.4 million, with every other town getting a share. Each town in the county is set to get more than $1 million except Dixon and Riverside, which are estimated to receive $515,000 and $276,000, respectively. The big winner outside Rawlins is Saratoga, estimated to receive $8.9 million.

But it’s a slow-going process. Right now, the only construction underway is the creation of the road that will be used to transport turbine materials and construction equipment.

The initial grant was applied for in January of 2008; since then, there has been a lengthy review process, with an Environmental Impact Statement ultimately being approved in 2012.

That approval for wind development is subject to further site-specific analysis by the Bureau of Land Management, a process that will take several years. Choquette estimated that, provided that they get grant approval and no unforeseen delays creep up, phase one will be completed by 2020.

The entire project, with 1,000 turbines, could be finished by 2023, again pending environmental analysis.

“There is a very high level of environmental analysis that you’ll have to go through,” Choquette said. “We thought this is a great place to do this, where private industry can work with federal land.”

Looking at Utah, according to Utah Business, Salt Lake City-based software solutions firm ARCOM has been acquired by San Francisco-based Alpine Investors V SBIC, LP (Alpine):

ARCOM is a strategic partner to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and maintains and distributes the organization’s AIA MasterSpec content, which is used by 88 percent of the top architectural and engineering firms in the United States.

“The U.S. non-residential construction market, which is just now starting to reap the tremendous benefits brought by technology, is forecast to grow for the next decade,” said Mark Strauch, a partner at Alpine and now a board member at ARCOM. “Our market research quickly identified ARCOM as a well-respected leader in delivering productivity-enhancing software solutions to provide the rich specification content needed by architects, engineers, designers and specification professionals. This combination of untapped market opportunity and the company’s established leadership was very attractive to us.”

Christopher Bushnell, AIA, who had served as ARCOM’s President and CEO for 10 years, will retire at the end of the year. Jim Contardi, a CEO-in-residence at Alpine, has assumed the role as CEO at ARCOM.

“I am thrilled to join the industry leaders at ARCOM to lead us into the next chapter,” said Contardi. “This talented team has built a strong foundation for growth and together, with Alpine’s support, we will scale ARCOM to provide the next level of innovative solutions to the architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) market. This is just the first step into an exciting future.”

“ARCOM has a long history of providing leadership in the architecture and building design industry through delivery of MasterSpec, a product created by AIA for its members,” said AIA Executive Vice President / CEO, Robert Ivy, FAIA. “We are very confident in the new ownership of ARCOM and its new CEO, Jim Contardi, and our mutual investment in the future of MasterSpec.”

Finally, over in Colorado, the cost of rent in Denver is a hot button issue for many residents, with many analysts saying it will only go up over the next year. How much? “It depends on who you ask,” says the Denver Business Journal:

Seattle-based Zillow predicts that Denver rents will jump 5.9 percent in the coming year, the third highest jump nationally behind only Seattle (7.2 percent increase) and Portland (6 percent).

Nationally, rents are expected to go up only 1.7 percent.

Zillow predicts double-digit rent growth in some areas of Bailey, Kiowa and Black Hawk, as well as an 8.1 increase in rents in the 80011 ZIP code area of Aurora.

“High rent growth in these markets is being driven by high demand and low supply. We have more renters today than in the past and most newly formed households are renter households. This taken together with a lack of new rental construction at less expensive price points has been a recipe for rising rents,” said Svenja Gudell, Zillow chief economist, in a statement.

But wait, didn’t another rental company say recently that Denver rent hikes are slowing?

Earlier this week, California property management software company Yardi Matrix said that because so many new apartment units are coming on line in Denver, rent hikes are now cooling to around 2 percent year-over-year.

Both companies do agree that double-digit annual rent hikes of years past, like Denver’s 11 percent rise in 2015, won’t be happening in the coming year.

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