Wyoming ranchers worried about massive planned solar farm: Fire risk, ecosystem damage, spillover impact to ranchland


A $1.2 billion solar farm coming to Cheyenne, Wyoming has local ranchers concerned.

The solar field is set to provide power for data centers in the area belonging to large corporations like Microsoft and Meta, not homeowners, according to reporting from Pat Maio at Cowboy State Daily. It will be built on private land leases over nearly 4,000 acres of virgin prairie grassland. Canadian energy company Enbridge, Inc. is managing the project; developers say the energy farm will house 1.2 million solar panels and a large battery storage system.

Ranchers say the region–with its high winds, frequent hailstorms, little rain, and dry prairie grasses–is not suited to solar. They are worried about lithium-based fires, impact to the undeveloped prairie ecosystems, and spillover damage on neighboring ranchlands.

Republican candidate for state senate Marc Torriani lives near the planned site. He told a reporter that the battery storage system has him worried about wildfires.

“Water doesn’t put out these fires. With lithium-based fires, you got to let them burn out. Adding water is more dangerous.”

Construction of the so-called Cowboy Solar Project could start as early as March 2025.

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