Latest News

Southern Power Brings Wyoming's First Solar Facility Online

Date: May 20, 2024

Daily Energy Insider reports that Wyoming recently gained its first solar facility, and Southern Power its 30th, with the beginning of operations at the 150 MW South Cheyenne Solar Facility in Laramie County.

While Southern Power's portfolio stretches from coast to coast, this facility marked a new foray for it on the West Coast, made possible by the site's acquisition from Qcells USA Corp. in September 2023. At that time, Qcells provided Southern with a full renewable value chain and turnkey services on the project and continued on as project developer, module manufacturer, and engineering procurement construction (EPC) provider of the site.

Now, South Cheyenne's addition brings South Power’s solar portfolio to more than 2,740 MW, a sizable chunk of the company’s total 5,280 MW renewable fleet.

"We are thrilled to announce that South Cheyenne Solar has reached commercial operation, marking a significant milestone for our team and all who have worked tirelessly on this project, and we are equally excited to see our footprint expand with our first operational site in Wyoming," Robin Boren, Southern Power president, said. "This facility showcases our commitment to the development of solar energy and is an excellent addition to our growing renewable fleet." Read more.


Wyoming DEQ Changes, Clarifies Water Quality Rules

Date: May 20, 2024

What do "primary contact" and "secondary contact" mean, anyway? It's a question that's baffled many Wyomingites as they've puzzled over a sign or flier or website warning them that there may be a problem with their local lake or river.

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has heard from the public that terms like these are confusing; among a raft of other changes proposed for Chapters 1 and 2 of the DEQ's Water Quality Rules, it plans to redefine these as "full body contact" and "limited body contact" respectively.

Every three years, the DEQ must review its rules and regulations to make sure they're in line with the surface water quality standards set out in the Clean Water Act. In recent years, the Wyoming attorney general's office has also been emphasizing what DEQ Surface Water Quality Standards Coordinator Lindsay Patterson described as "rules clean-up" — that is, streamlining and reorganizing rules to remove redundancies and/or points of confusion.

In 2018, the DEQ sought public feedback on which of its rules were in need of revising. Based on that input and other information it gathered, it decided to take a hard look at Chapter 1 of its Water Quality Rules. Chapter 2 is also undergoing more minor revisions, largely to reflect language changes made to Chapter 1. These changes are now in a public comment period leading up to an upcoming meeting of the Water and Waste Advisory Board in Casper this June.

"It should make it easier for folks to follow the rules," Patterson explained during a recent webinar regarding the changes. "All that input has been influential in the material we put out for public review." Read more in the Laramie Boomerang.


CO2 Capture Projects at Wyoming Coal Plant Receive Funding

Date: May 20, 2024

Basin Electric Power Cooperative has announced that several carbon capture and storage (CCS) research projects hosted at the co-op's Dry Fork Station near Gillette, Wyoming have earned federal funding, according to Power Engineering. The 405 MW coal-fired Dry Fork plant is home to the Wyoming Integrated Test Center. The CCS testing facility allows CO2 capture technology companies access to the flue gas that would otherwise be released from the plant.

In March, Membrane Technology and Research (MTR) Carbon Capture announced that it received $4.6 million to develop a Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) study for an integrated CCS project at Dry Fork. Wyoming CarbonSAFE, led by the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources (SER), is a partner for sequestering the captured CO2 and is a co-recipient of the award. MTR Carbon Capture will use its proprietary Polaris polymeric membrane.

The company aims to capture, compress and store onsite 3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, achieving at least a 90% carbon capture rate. This FEED study funding is part of the US Department of Energy's Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED) Carbon Capture Demonstration Projects Program, which advances carbon management technologies. Read more.

Governor Responds to PacifiCorp Plans to Install Carbon Capture Technology

Date: April 17, 2024

On April 1, PacifiCorp submitted its update to the 2023 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The Wyoming Public Service Commission will review the IRP. The IRP lays out the direction for how the state’s largest utility plans to source its energy for the next two decades. The update includes installation of carbon capture technology on coal-fired units 3 and 4 at the Jim Bridger Power Plant. Governor Mark Gordon has issued the following statement in response to the announcement in a news release.

“Just a few years ago, the Integrated Resource Plans being submitted to the Wyoming Public Service Commission were all targeted towards the elimination of coal-fired power plants. The Wyoming Legislature and I were concerned with this limited-option direction, and in 2019 the legislature responded with SF159, which provided that before closing any coal units, a good faith effort must be made to sell that unit. In addition, the legislature passed HB200 in 2020, requiring the regulated utilities to evaluate using carbon capture technology on coal-fired power plants to meet lower CO2 standards being mandated by federal regulations and consumer preferences. These were meant to be additional options for consideration, along with additional wind and solar.

Granted the IRP are plans and do change, but to select carbon capture as the preferred portfolio for Jim Bridger Power Plant Units 3 & 4, is an accurate reflection of the need to be able to produce 24-hour dispatchable power. It is a remarkable change of direction, which – if shown to be economically beneficial – will be a win for Wyoming, our consumers, and the consumers served by PacifiCorp.”


Central Wyoming College Bolsters STEM Curriculum with Cutting-Edge Equipment, Research

Date: April 17, 2024

Central Wyoming College has announced a significant advancement in its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program with the acquisition of state-of-the-art scientific equipment that will be housed at the College’s Jackson campus, according to Buckrail.

These additions, the Nanodrop spectrophotometer and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) machine, offer opportunities for research and education. “Our investment in this equipment reflects the college’s commitment to fostering STEM innovation and excellence,” says Kirsten Kapp, Professor of Biology and Mathematics at Central Wyoming College’s Jackson campus. “These tools empower students to conduct groundbreaking research and gain valuable scientific insights.”

Kapp, who will be overseeing the use of these instruments in the classroom, is renowned for her research on microplastic pollution. Her scholarly publications and academic excellence set a high standard for education and research at CWC. Her contributions to the scientific community have been supported by grants from the Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium, Wyoming INBRE through an Institutional Development Award (IDeA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health and by the Teton Conservation District. Read more.

EPA Announces Over $42M for Wyoming Water Infrastructure Upgrades

Date: March 19, 2024

Wyo4News reports that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $42,956,000 for Wyoming drinking water and clean water infrastructure upgrades. Almost half of this funding will be available as grants or principal forgiveness loans, ensuring funds reach underserved communities most in need of investments in water infrastructure.

“Over the past three years, EPA has invested nearly $175 million for new and upgraded wastewater and drinking water services in Wyoming communities through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker. “These projects are building new treatment and delivery systems, creating jobs, and securing healthy watersheds and safe drinking water across the state.”

The funding EPA announced for Wyoming is part of a $5.8 billion investment through the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRF), one of EPA’s signature water investment programs. This multi-billion-dollar investment will fund state-run, low-interest loan programs to address key challenges, with $2.6 billion going to the Clean Water SRF for wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and $3.2 billion going to the Drinking Water SRF for drinking water infrastructure nationwide. Read more.


Solar Energy and Sheep Expert Teams Up with Wyoming’s Massive Solar Project

Date: March 19, 2024

BrightNight LLC has big plans for a 500-megawatt solar farm near Glenrock, Wyoming, and they’re keen on including sheep grazing as part of it to keep local traditions alive. That’s why they’ve reached out to Chad Higgins, an Oregon State University Associate Professor, who is famous for his work in agri-solar setups, according to MicroGrid Media.

Higgins has been on board since 2022 and is a pioneer in the field of agrivoltaics. His research dives deep into how solar panels interact with animals that graze – especially sheep. Letting sheep munch grass under solar panels isn’t just a nice thought – it’s happening all over the place. Higgins even ran tests at Oregon State University’s Sheep Center with sheep feasting beneath solar arrays.

The American Solar Grazing Association expects that by 2023, over 50,000 acres of solar farms will be open dining rooms for sheep. Research says that sheep actually like chilling and eating under solar panels more than out in the wide-open fields. Read more.

Wyoming Pilot Program May Net Multi-Million Dollar DOE Grant

Date: February 23, 2024

The Department of Energy recently announced a funding invitation for a select set of carbon capture projects at the forefront of climate solutions — including a potential $49 million award to TDA Research Inc. for a large-scale pilot project at the Integrated Test Center near Gillette.

The project's selection highlights Wyoming’s growing role in the nation's climate agenda and a sign that leaders see Carbon Capture and Storage technology as a vital component of the energy transition, wyomingnews.com reports.

It marks the latest infusion of a massive $937 million federal earmark set aside by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which administrators aim to deploy to the double effect of reaching net zero while gaining an economic edge.

TDA now enters negotiations to secure a multi-million dollar grant for the construction of a large scale pilot project to show its point source capture system is able to efficiently reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. The project will be built at the ITC and draw on direct flue gas from the adjacent Dry Fork Station. The technology consists in a series of "absorption beds" that use metal and salt compounds to separate CO2 from flue gas. Read more.


Lander Teen Selected as Wyoming's Representative STEM Ambassador Program

Date: February 23, 2024

According to County 10, the STEM Next Opportunity Fund recently announced the members of Million Girls Moonshot Flight Crew, a "youth ambassador program championing access to STEM learning opportunities in afterschool and summer for all youth across the nation." Chosen as Wyoming's sole representative in this year's Flight Crew, was Lander Valley High School junior and Lights On In Lander class helper Ally Spiess.

Spiess has been getting hands-on, classroom STEM teaching experience as a kindergarten aged classroom helper at Lights On in Lander since the start of the summer of 2023. Lights On is a Fremont County School District #1, school-based expanded services program that is "designed to provide quality extended day and summer programming to students in grades PreK–5th," and utilizes STEM projects during the enrichment portion of each session with students.

The STEM Next release goes on to say that Spies and other Flight Crew members "will elevate youth voices to break down stereotypes and spark their peers' curiosity in STEM. These young leaders embody the Moonshot mission to engage millions more girls in STEM learning opportunities and inspire more youth to pursue a STEM career." Read more.

Wyoming to Make Historic Investment in High-Speed Internet

Date: January 19, 2024

Governor Mark Gordon announced that Wyoming has recommended funding 32 applications totaling $70.5 million in federal funds to expand broadband to more than 11,000 locations across the state that do not currently have access to high-speed internet.

“This is the single-largest broadband investment in Wyoming history,” Governor Gordon said. “These federal funds will ensure Wyoming communities and businesses that currently lack access to high-quality internet will be equipped with the modern infrastructure they need to access critical services.”

The US Treasury launched the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund (CPF) in 2021, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) which provides $10 billion for eligible governments to carry out critical capital projects that directly enable work, education, and health monitoring, including remote options, in response to the COVID 19 public health emergency.

Gordon designated $70 million of the ARPA/CPF funding for broadband infrastructure improvements across the state to ensure Wyomingites have the ability to telework, learn from home, and access telemedicine. The Wyoming Business Council Broadband Office is the administrator of the funds. Read more.


Science Initiative Roadshow Reaches Record Number of Wyoming Students

Date: January 19, 2024

According to the University of Wyoming, the school’s Science Initiative Roadshow reached 4,209 K-12 students in six counties through 14 individual events this fall - the program’s largest one-semester reach since it began in 2017.

Events included four STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Days that included participation from the UW Wyrkshop Mobile Makerspace; the Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium Science Kitchen; the UW College of Engineering and Physical Sciences’ K-14 STEM Education Outreach Office; the Wyoming Game and Fish Department; UW Extension offices; local conservation districts; CyberWyoming; Western Wyoming Community College; and Northwest College.

The Science Initiative Roadshow is a team of undergraduate and graduate students from UW, along with UW instructors, who travel throughout the state facilitating  hands-on learning in a range of locations. The teams from UW work with K-12 students to increase excitement and education in the sciences.

“We specifically collaborate with K-12 teachers to integrate learning experiences into existing curricula to achieve assigned learning outcomes or link activities to specific state science standards,” says Erin Klauk, co-director of the Science Initiative Roadshow. “This collaborative approach exposes learners in Wyoming  to  innovative active-learning techniques and creates links between UW and schools/communities across the state to improve STEM interest statewide.” Read more.


New Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Planned for Wyoming

Date: January 19, 2024

In an effort to create a more accessible network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, Wyoming’s federally funded program is seeking new ideas and investors to jumpstart its development, MotorMouth reports. The program, known as the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program, was put on hold last spring due to concerns about potential costs and the adequacy of the allocated $24 million.

“We never threw in the towel,” said Jordan Young, a spokesperson for the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT). “Really, we just paused it. We are not moving forward or backward.”

WYDOT is giving new investors until the end of January to come up with fresh proposals and measure interest from potential station owners. The program requires a 20% match from private businesses, which would both build and operate the stations. Federal funding would support the stations’ operations for up to five years, without any requirement for state money. After five years, the businesses would be responsible for operating the charging stations independently.

NEVI approved Wyoming’s five-year plan in September 2022, allowing for the allocation of $3.9 million in 2022 and an expected $5 million annually for the following four years to build the infrastructure. Read more.

Wyoming Innovates to Combat Climate Change

Date: December 19, 2023

According to CBS News, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon is promoting an "all-of-the-above" energy policy that features advances in wind and nuclear technology, despite pushback from his conservative state.

Though Gordon is the Republican leader of the nation's top coal mining state, he's emerging as a leading voice on climate-friendly energy projects. His ambitious, net-negative emissions goal prompted sanctions from the state's Republican party, but Gordon says he's moving forward regardless.

"Whatever you're going to do in energy, probably you're going [to] have something to do in Wyoming," he said. "We have tremendous wind resources. We have the largest reserves of uranium, important for nuclear energy, the largest coal producer, we're number eight in oil, number nine in natural gas."

With so many resources and a population of less than 600,000 people, the state exports 83% of its energy. A major project is underway to export energy to California. Huge wind farms already dot Wyoming's landscape, and construction on a new one will soon begin to supply energy to California. The 600 planned turbines will generate enough electricity to power more than a million homes. A new 800-mile transmission line is being built to export that clean energy. Read more.


Wyoming to Get $70.5M Broadband Expansion

Date: December 19, 2023

A plan to spend $70.5 million in federal money for broadband internet expansion in Wyoming is historic, according to Governor Mark Gordon, The Center Square reports. “This is the single-largest broadband investment in Wyoming history,” Gordon said.

The governor is recommending that the funding, which comes from the federal American Rescue Plan Act's Coronavirus Capital Projects Funds, go toward 32 projects.

“These federal funds will ensure Wyoming communities and businesses that currently lack access to high-quality internet will be equipped with the modern infrastructure they need to access critical services,” he added. Read more.


University of Wyoming Awarded $11.2M to Study Underground CO2 Storage

Date: December 19, 2023

WyoFile reports that University of Wyoming will receive up to $11.2 million in federal support to test deep geologic layers in the south-central portion of the state to determine if they are suitable for carbon dioxide storage.

The university’s School of Energy Resources will lead the 2-year study in collaboration with the US Department of Energy and Williams Companies, which operates the Echo Springs natural gas processing plant south of Wamsutter as well as an extensive interstate pipeline network.

The study will join three federal CarbonSAFE initiatives now underway at SER. State leaders hope the combined efforts will spawn a new carbon capture and storage industry that helps keep Wyoming fossil fuels in the nation’s energy mix while addressing climate change.

“The location for this project sits within a prolific gas field and, to date, there has been limited data of the deeper geologic formations to help us understand what the entire storage potential will be for the eastern side of the Greater Green River Basin,” said Fred McLaughlin, director of SER’s Center for Economic Geology Research. Read more.

Wyoming PE Wins Ethics Contest

Harry E. Hughes, P.E.

Harry E. Hughes, P.E., submitted the winning entry in the 2023 NSPE Milton F. Lunch Ethics Contest. Hughes is the owner of Owl Creek Engineering LLC in Thermopolis, Wyoming. His winning entry addressed the ethics of billing for forensic investigations.

The Milton F. Lunch Ethics Contest provides an opportunity for NSPE members to put their ethics knowledge to the test on topics that present ethical challenges such as artificial intelligence, climate change, and the industrial exemption. Hughes received $2,000 and a certificate. He will also be recognized in PE magazine.

Access the winning contest submission.


Dam Engineer Worried About LaPrele Dam

Date: November 14, 2023

The LaPrele Dam in Converse County had seen more than double its intended 50-year service life when inspectors took a closer look at its hard-to-reach upper half in 2019, according to the Cowboy State Daily.

The intent of the inspection was to look for rock fall damage. But instead, they found cracks in the dam’s “flying buttress” structure. And that alarmed them enough to call for lowering the dam’s authorized maximum capacity to 60%. That should be enough to keep things safe, for now, but the aging structure should be replaced sooner rather than later, Nathan Graves told Cowboy State Daily on Friday. Graves was the dam safety engineer for the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office from 2012-2022. But at 114 years old, LaPrele is the nation’s oldest open-front dam.

Chances of the LaPrele Dam giving way anytime soon are slim. “The idea is, if you can keep the water off of that (the cracked section), it will be a lot safer,” Graves said. But if it did happen, it would be ugly, he said. “If that dam were to fail, it’s not going to be like an earthen dam failing, where it would slowly give way. It would happen rapidly.” Read more.


Wyoming Rate Hike Inspires Slew of Bills

Date: November 14, 2023

Lawmakers have advanced six draft bills intended to ensure Wyoming electricity customers pay only what’s necessary for utilities to provide reliable energy without lining executives’ pockets or footing the bill for other states’ demands for renewable energy, the Energy News Network reports.

The legislative efforts attempt to fill perceived regulatory gaps in a rapidly changing utility landscape, according to Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivision committee members who debated the bills Friday in Cheyenne. Though some measures were criticized as redundant of existing utility practices and Wyoming Public Service Commission authority, and for adding to the under-staffed commission’s workload, they’re also intended to send a message.

“A big part of what we’re doing is perception,” Rep. Jeremy Haroldson (R-Wheatland) said. “We’re having this conversation and [residents] want to know without a shadow of a doubt that when they pay their utility bill next month they’re not paying for another state’s decisions.”

All six bills will be sponsored by the committee. Bills sponsored by legislative panels are historically more likely to succeed than measures backed by individual lawmakers.

Despite the two-thirds vote threshold required to introduce non-budget bills in February’s budget session, committee members are hopeful the high-profile issue of soaring electric rates will win consideration for the slate of utility measures before the legislature. Read more.

BWX Technologies to Evaluate Microreactor Deployment in Wyoming

Date: October 16, 2023

US-based BWX Technologies (BWXT) has signed a two-phase, two-year contract with the Wyoming Energy Authority (WEA) to assess the viability of deploying small-scale nuclear reactors in the state, National Engineering International reports.

Under the first phase one of the contract, BWXT “will work with Wyoming industries to define the requirements basis for nuclear applications of base heat and power needs of the trona mining operations within the state”. In addition, BWXT will undertake engineering work to further the design of its integrated BWXT Advanced Nuclear Reactor (BANR) system that can integrate into Wyoming’s future power needs. The BANR design is a 50 MWt high-temperature gas-cooled microreactor that will use TRISO (TRIstructural-ISOtropic) fuel.

According to the BWXT website, the BANR project “is developing a modular, factory-fabricated system that is small and light enough to be transported via rail, ship or truck and that can deliver 50 MW of thermal nuclear reactor power.” It employs “mature and manufacturable high-temperature gas reactor (HTGR) technology with inherent safety features and a high working fluid temperature.” It offers flexible options for energy output - including electricity, steam for process heat, or both (cogeneration) while minimizing greenhouse gas emissions. Read more.


University of Wyoming Receives Funding for New Blue Hydrogen Project

Date: October 16, 2023

The University of Wyoming will receive $693,514 in support of creating a new hydrogen economy from the Wyoming Innovation Partnership (WIP), Sheridan Media reports. According to UW, the project, “Advancing Blue Hydrogen Production and Transport Infrastructure in Wyoming,” examines the technical, economic, environmental, social and policy issues related to nuclear-powered hydrogen produced from conventional and renewable gas resources in Wyoming.

The project phase will be completed at the end of a 12-month period and is led by faculty and researchers in UW’s Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management and the School of Energy Resources, and in collaboration with Western Wyoming Community College, the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, and Idaho National Laboratory.

Haibo Zhai, a UW professor and the Roy and Caryl Cline Distinguished Chair in Engineering, who leads the project said investment in clean hydrogen has potential to foster new technological and business developments and create job opportunities in the clean energy industry. “In order for there to be any kind of success for a new hydrogen economy,” Zhai said, “we must simultaneously address the social impacts and educational infrastructure at all levels as we continue to develop the technology.” Read more.

Governor Appoints New Director of WYDOT

Date: September 15, 2023

Governor Mark Gordon has appointed Darin Westby to serve as director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation(WYDOT). Westby has served as interim director of the agency since March. He was one of three finalist candidates for the position that the Wyoming Transportation Commission submitted to the governor.

Prior to joining WYDOT as interim director, Westby spent 22 years with the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources, serving as director of the agency from 2016-2023. He has more than 28 years of experience in the environmental, architectural, engineering, construction and management fields. Westby earned his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Wyoming and holds a civil professional engineering license and a certificate in public management. Read more.


Casper Takes First Steps for Ford Wyoming Center Development

Date: September 15, 2023

The city of Casper wants to build off the Ford Wyoming Center, Trails Center and up-and-coming Wyo Sports Ranch by developing its 112 acres of vacant land next door. It’s a project that would take years, if not decades, to realize. And the city’s just getting started: the council ironed out some of its very first steps, which includes putting in for $10 million in financial support from the state, The Casper Star Tribune reports.

Casper’s main objective, should the project move forward, would be dragging out utilities and expanding transportation in the area. The Ayers Associates report estimated this would cost roughly $14.8 million, most of which would go toward laying water and sewer lines and reconfiguring roadways.

The city thinks it’s found a way to cover the bulk of the project: securing a $5 million grant and $5 million loan from the Wyoming Business Council’s Business Ready Community program. The initiative helps governments pay for infrastructure developments that would support community economic development. Read more.


TransWest Line to Recast Wyoming from Coal Villain to Energy Hero

Date: September 15, 2023

A 728-mile (1,172-km) transmission line connecting wind farms in rural Wyoming to power consumers in California and Nevada looks set to reshape Wyoming's reputation from coal stalwart to energy transition lynchpin, according to a report by Reuters. Wyoming is by far the largest coal producing state in the United States, accounting for more than 40% of total US coal output in 2021, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

The state also relies on coal to generate more than 60% of its electricity, three times the US national average, according to environment group Ember, which focuses on the global transition to clean electricity. But construction of the TransWest Express transmission line, which after 15 years in development finally broke ground this summer, has the potential to reshape Wyoming into a key enabler of the United States' energy transition ambitions.

A combination of abundant open spaces, above-average wind speeds and relatively low domestic power consumption make Wyoming an ideal candidate for wholesale wind farms that can export power to other states. Read more.

Wyoming National Guard Engineers Strengthen Partnership with Tunisian Military

Date: August 14, 2023

DVIDS reports that the Wyoming Army National Guard’s 133rd Engineer Support Company recently engaged in a fruitful collaboration with Tunisian engineers, forging a valuable partnership through the State Partnership Program.

The exchange aimed to provide essential support and training with the Tunisian 61st Engineers and Tunisian Brigade of Special Forces during a Joint Combined Training Exercise in Bizerte, Tunisia. This initiative enhances military capabilities and fosters strong relationships between the two nations.

Through the SPP, the 133rd connected with the 61st and BFS, giving them a valuable opportunity to share knowledge, skills, and experiences. Together, they worked through joint exercises, training programs, and workshops to improve their expertise and develop innovative solutions for different challenges. The units focused on tasks like developing infrastructure, construction, and logistical support, which are crucial for ensuring Soldiers can perform their duties effectively. The primary objective was to enrich the readiness and effectiveness of Tunisia’s Special Forces in carrying out complex missions. Read more.


Major Gift to UW Civil Engineering Supports Department Head

Date: August 14, 2023

According to the University of Wyoming, a gift from retired Shell engineer and executive Tom Botts and his wife, Shelley, to the school will support the head of the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. This gift was matched by the UW Foundation.

“Shelley and I are very proud of our Wyoming roots and what the University of Wyoming has given us,” Botts says. “My civil engineering education at UW enabled me to succeed in a very competitive industry and have the confidence to succeed in whatever job I was in. We are pleased to give back to UW.”

This gift establishes the Thomas and Shelley Botts Department Head in Civil Engineering. The purpose of this endowed position is to recruit and retain a strong department head by garnering the attention of nationally recognized scholars or industry leaders. It provides a flexible source of funding that can be used to foster excellence in the department and provide support for departmental needs and special initiatives. Read more.

Wyoming Receives $347.9 Million for High-Speed Internet Infrastructure

Date: July 18, 2023

The US Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration has announced that Wyoming will receive $347.9 million from the $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program to deploy affordable, reliable high-speed internet service, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports.

This change in access has the potential to positively impact Wyoming’s economy, as well as the quality of life for its residents. It will assist in bridging the rural digital divide, a term used to describe the inequities in internet access between rural and urban Americans.

“We saw during the pandemic how important high-speed internet is,” Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins said. “Kids had school, we worked from home, we were isolated, we needed to be able to FaceTime our loved ones…having a robust broadband system is really critical.”

Allocated to states and territories based on need, the funds are a part of the “Internet for All” initiative, which is a part of President Biden’s “Investing in America” agenda.

Wyoming Business Council Broadband Manager Elaina Zempel anticipates that the funds will help the Wyoming Department of Transportation support the emergency management system across the state, which is heavily dependent upon good internet, broadband speeds, and access. Read more.


Wyoming, Colorado to Partner on Developing Carbon Capture Technologies

Date: July 18, 2023

The governors of Wyoming and Colorado have signed a memorandum of understanding for interstate collaboration on the development of carbon capture technologies, The Hill reports.

The bipartisan partnership, signed by Governors Mark Gordon (R-Wyoming) and Jared Polis (D-Colorado), will explore the potential of these emerging tools to complement existing and future industries while boosting economic growth and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in both states.

The agreement focuses specifically on “direct air carbon dioxide capture” (DAC), a method of carbon dioxide removal in which the gas is captured — from power plant emissions, for example — and then either permanently stored in geological formations underground or reused in other industries.

The federal government has advanced several incentives and competitive grant opportunities to develop and scale-related technologies — which could find a unique testbed in the Mountain West, according to the partners. “Colorado and Wyoming each have pieces of the puzzle necessary to develop a carbon removal market and industry,” Gordon said in a statement, released alongside the announcement.

“Together, we have a powerful combination of assets, infrastructure, policy, markets, people, geology and mindsets that are needed to accelerate the development of the industry,” the Wyoming governor added. Read more.


Wyoming National Guard Partners with Engineering Company

Date: July 18, 2023

The Wyoming National Guard announced its first-ever corporate sponsor, Simon, a Colas company, as part of the esteemed Partnership for Your Success program (PaYS), Cap City News reports.

On June 28, a sponsorship ceremony was held at the Joint Forces Readiness Center in Cheyenne, commemorating the milestone. Distinguished attendees included Wyoming Congresswoman Harriet Hageman, Wyoming National Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Greg Porter and corporate leadership from Simon and Colas, according to a press release from the Wyoming National Guard.

“In the Wyoming Guard, we prioritize four essential lines of effort: lethality, resilience, responsiveness and partnerships. We couldn’t exist as a National Guard without the partnerships with our families and employers,” Porter said. “Today, we recognize an exceptional partnership with Colas and the Simon company. I cannot overstate how thrilled we are about this collaboration.”

The PaYS program serves as a conduit between businesses seeking to employ military personnel and deserving soldiers committed to serving their country while preparing for their future. Soldiers are guaranteed a job interview and potential employment opportunities through this program. PaYS is open to all soldiers in the regular Army, Army Reserves, Army National Guard, Army Cadet Command and Army ROTC. Read more.

TransWest Poised to Expand Reach of Wyoming Renewables

Date: June 21, 2023

After 15 years of planning and permitting, construction will begin this year on the TransWest Express high-voltage transmission line, EnergyCentral reports, a milestone expansion of Wyoming’s electric power export industry to markets in the American Southwest and one of the largest transmission upgrades to the western grid in decades.

The Bureau of Land Management granted TransWest Express LLC a “notice to proceed” in April, culminating years of work and millions of dollars invested in a “vision” to bring Wyoming’s renewable energy potential to the rest of the West, according to company officials. While TransWest Express LLC was mired in planning and a painstaking bureaucratic permitting process that included obtaining rights-of-way from hundreds of entities across the 732-mile route, its affiliate Power Company of Wyoming was already doing preliminary construction work on the wind farm that will energize the line. The Anschutz Corporation owns both companies.

The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind energy project will span some 320,000 acres in Carbon County and generate 3,000 megawatts of electricity — representing about 28% of Wyoming's current electrical generation capacity today, according to US Energy Information data. It will be the largest onshore wind energy facility in North America, according to Power Company of Wyoming. Read more.


Wyoming’s EV Infrastructure Plan on Hold Due to ‘High Risk’ Profile

Date: June 21, 2023

Wyoming has decided to hold off on implementing its national electric vehicle infrastructure plan after learning more about the details of the program, state lawmakers heard last month, County10.com reports.

“We made the decision to pull back the reins and not do anything at this point until some clarity happens,” Wyoming Department of Transportation director Darin Westby told the Joint Transportation, Highway and Military Affairs Committee during a meeting in May.

WYDOT had already received approval from the federal government to install seven electric vehicle charging stations along interstate corridors in Wyoming, Westby said, and the agency’s request for proposals from contractors interested in building the charging stations was “ready to go out the door.”

But then WYDOT did “further diligence on the actual (NEVI) agreement” and learned that Wyoming might be “on the hook to pay the federal government back on the construction costs” for the charging stations if the contractor decides to abandon the project after five years, he said.

The problem is compounded by “market research” that shows it would take “almost 20 years” for the charging stations to “pencil out” for a private business, he added. “So … we are not going to release the RFP at this point,” Westby said. “We pulled back and said, ‘Let’s pause.’” Read more.

Cheyenne PE Named NSPE Fellow

Date: May 16, 2023

Shelley Macy, P.E.

NSPE has welcomed NSPE-WY member Shelley Macy, P.E., into its 2023 Class of Fellows. Macy is the owner of Macy Engineering PC and is a lecturer at the University of Wyoming. She joins four other PEs in receiving the membership level that honors NSPE members who have demonstrated exemplary and devoted service to the profession, the Society, and their communities.


Bill Gates Unveils Site of Wyoming’s Natrium Nuclear Reactor

Date: May 16, 2023

Bill Gates recently visited Kemmerer, Wyoming to showcase the future site of TerraPower’s Natrium reactor, set to be operational by 2028, Innovation Origins reports.

The Natrium reactor design features a molten salt storage tank, allowing it to adjust power output according to demand. In addition to energy generation, TerraPower is also making strides in cancer treatment by producing a groundbreaking cancer treatment isotope in the US for the first time, using a high-flux nuclear reactor. The company’s strategic collaboration with South Korea’s SK Innovation and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power is a significant step towards commercializing the Natrium reactor, paving the way for a cleaner, sustainable future.

Wyoming, the United States’ top coal-producing state, has been chosen as the site for the first Natrium reactor project. The decision to build the reactor at the site of a retiring coal plant showcases the transition towards cleaner energy sources.

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon supports the Natrium project as part of his “all-of-the-above strategy for energy”. The project will not only help reduce greenhouse gas emissions but is also expected to boost Wyoming’s uranium mining industry, as the advanced reactor aims to minimize nuclear waste. Read more.


UW Team Takes Fourth in International Solar House Design Competition

Date: May 16, 2023

A University of Wyoming student team’s entry has finished fourth in an international competition to design zero-energy buildings, the school’s website reports.

The solar-powered home in the foothills of Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains was part of the 2023 U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) 20th annual Solar Decathlon Build Challenge at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado.

“What a successful project for UW. We’re thrilled to place so highly in an international competition. It’s a great credit to our hard-working, enthusiastic students, our outstanding faculty and a tremendous partnership with the builder,” says Anthony “Tony” Denzer, a professor and department head of UW’s Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management. “Moreover, this was not a vanity project, but a real market-ready home with the goal of introducing the zero-energy concept to Wyoming homebuyers.”

While UW’s entry was fourth overall, it placed first in the “Comfort and Environmental Quality” category; tied for first in the “Energy Performance” and “Occupant Experience” categories; and was third in the “Embodied Environmental Impact” category. Read more.

Construction of TransWest Express Transmission Project Approved

Date: April 19, 2023

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued a notice to proceed for construction of the 732-mile TransWest Express Project, a high-voltage transmission line that will extend from south-central Wyoming through northwestern Colorado and central Utah, ending in southern Nevada, Wyoming News Now reports.

Over 1,000 jobs will be created during construction and once complete, the line will provide 3,000 megawatts of new transmission capacity. The TransWest Express Project will carry electricity generated by the largest onshore wind generation project in North America, the over 3-gigawatt Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project, located in Carbon County, Wyoming.

Like the TransWest Express Project, the 600-turbine Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind project is partially located on public lands managed by the BLM. Building new interregional transmission lines helps deliver clean, reliable, and affordable electricity that lowers costs for consumers. The TransWest Express Project is the second high-voltage, multi-state transmission line completed by the BLM Wyoming State Office within the last year; the State Office approved construction of the Energy Gateway South project in May 2022. Read more.


Report: Coal Infrastructure in Wyoming Can Be “Repurposed”

Date: April 19, 2023

Wyoming is home to a wealth of mining and coal-fired power generation infrastructure that will eventually be decommissioned, razed and shipped away, even as the state courts dozens of new manufacturing and other industrial projects.

According to Wyofile.com, however, a new report finds opportunity in repurposing such facilities — which include railspurs and industrial-scale connections to the power grid — with the added benefit of sparing undeveloped landscapes that are home to vital wildlife habitat, cultural and recreational resources.

The 313-page “Coal Infrastructure Reuse” report by The Nature Conservancy includes a comprehensive inventory of coal mine and coal-power plant facilities in the state, and analyzes the potential for other businesses to make use of them.

The report analyzes more than 30 major coal mine and coal-power sites in the state that collectively span some 8,800 acres and represent $980 million in infrastructure replacement costs. The infrastructure — and the existing workforce that powers it — represents a tantalizing, ready-for-use opportunity for companies looking to set up manufacturing or install renewable energy generation or coal-to-products businesses, the report’s authors argue. Read more.

Remaining Pandemic Relief Dollars Earmarked for Infrastructure, Construction

Date: March 14, 2023

Local governments and health and human services providers can expect a second wave of grant money for infrastructure and construction projects after state lawmakers finalized a plan for how to spend the state’s roughly $124 million remaining American Rescue Plan Act dollars, the Casper Star Tribune reports.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) is a $1.9 trillion federal package created to help US states, tribes and territories recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of ARPA, Wyoming was granted $500 million in direct relief money from the US Department of the Treasury. Unlike other kinds of federal money made available through the relief package, the state has broad discretion in deciding how to spend that $500 million.

Lawmakers worked out where most of the money would go during last year’s legislative session. But when they convened in January for the 2023 session, there was still $124 million on the table. Read more.


Wyoming Energy Authority Advances R&D, Networking

Date: March 14, 2023

Wyoming’s newly formed energy development effort is going into its third year of operations with a strong footing in the heart of the state’s economy, according to the Wyoming Business Report.

The Wyoming Energy Authority represents the merging of two previously existing think tanks aimed at promoting a broad spectrum of energy development and production around the state.

The WEA originally formed in 2020 via the merging of two existing entities: the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority and the Wyoming Pipeline Authority. Since its inception, the WEA has operated with the goal of promoting the state’s diverse energy resources, which include traditional sources like coal, oil and natural gas, in addition to emerging technology like hydrogen, small modular nuclear, geothermal and rare earth elements.

“The Wyoming Energy Authority advances Wyoming’s energy strategy by driving data, technology and infrastructure investments,” said WEA spokesperson Honora Kerr. “With abundant natural resources and deep energy expertise, Wyoming is leading the way to the next-generation energy economy.” Read more.

Government Coal Mandate Hits Free-Market Hurdle

Date: February 10, 2023

A legislative effort to prop up the coal industry is hitting free-market headwinds, according to the Gillette News Record.

The 2020 measure mandated that utilities looking to close coal-fired power plants first try to retrofit the facilities with carbon capture technology. Black Hills Energy, however, announced last week that it is struggling to find bidders to take on the work at two of its facilities.

None of the eight companies solicited to bid on the installation and operation of amine-solution CO2 scrubbing facilities at the Neil Simpson II and Wygen II coal-power plants outside Gillette responded with proposals, according to Black Hills Energy’s interim report ordered by the Wyoming Public Service Commission.

Black Hills did receive proposals from two companies specializing in cryogenic CO2 capture systems. Those, however, are still under review. Read more.


Cheyenne Agency Looks to Reduce Certain Water Use

Date: February 10, 2023

Cheyenne may make voluntary cuts to its municipal water use and be paid per acre-foot of water saved, as many across the West continue to face historic drought.

The city of Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities will seek to save 1,500 acre-feet of water historically drawn from the Little Snake River and could be paid about $150 per acre-foot for any water sent downstream. However, according to BOPU Director Brad Brooks, no shortage for municipal users will actually occur. Through an exchange system, the city would make up those acre-feet from other sources.

“The whole concept of this is to check out ways to reduce the amount of water that is being used that would ultimately go down into the Colorado River system,” Brooks stated in an interview with the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

The voluntary water usage reduction program is called the System Conservation Pilot Program (SCCP) and is an incentivized program run by the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office that would pay water users in the Green River Basin to conserve water, instead allowing that water to flow downstream into the Colorado River and Lower Basin states like Arizona, California and Nevada. The Bureau of Reclamation allotted $125 million in funding to the Upper Colorado River Basin to be used toward the system conservation program. Read more.


Wyoming, Federal Government Clash Over EV Infrastructure Placement

Date: February 10, 2023

The State of Wyoming and the federal government are arguing over where the state should place EV infrastructure, reports Autobody News.

Despite the news in January that Wyoming was considering banning EVs, Wyoming may be far less anti-EV than one would think. According to EnergyWire, the state is staunchly in support of placing EV infrastructure. However, the federal government denied its proposed location for chargers.

The directive set by the Biden Administration was clear---EV chargers should be placed every 50 miles along US interstates, ensuring Americans are never too far from a charger for their vehicle. This sounds like a good idea, but representatives in the Wyoming State Legislature believe it is counterintuitive. Read more.

Mountain West States Court Federal Money to Create Regional Hydrogen Hub

Date: January 19, 2023

Federal officials are encouraging four Mountain West states to jointly apply for funding to develop more hydrogen energy infrastructure in the region, Wyoming Public Media reports. Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah have partnered up to create the Western Interstate Hydrogen Hub and in November submitted preliminary plans to compete for federal dollars.

Hydrogen, the simplest and most abundant element on earth, is usually made using natural gas. But there are other methods that emit very little CO2. When burned, its only byproduct is water, which means it has the potential to produce zero-emission energy.

The growth potential and climate implications of growing the hydrogen industry prompted the Biden administration to allocate $7 billion to create “clean hydrogen hubs” across the country. States will submit their full applications by early April and selected projects are expected to be announced earlier this summer.

Glen Murrell, director of the Wyoming Energy Authority, said the region has a number of key attributes the federal government is looking for, including existing energy infrastructure, a knowledgeable workforce and a diverse set of industries that can produce and consume hydrogen. Rather than one massive “hub” or location where hydrogen is being produced, the Intermountain West’s application proposes an “infrastructure network of production, transportation and consumption,” Murrell said. Read more.


UW Student Team Advances in NASA Design Challenge

A team of University of Wyoming students is one of seven student teams selected to advance to the second phase of NASA’s 2023 Micro-g Neutral Buoyancy Experiment Design Teams (NExT) engineering design challenge, according to a university news release.

Seven undergraduate students in the UW College of Engineering and Physical Sciences— dubbed the UW Space Rangers—designed and built the Lunar Lasso, a device that can install a zip tie during an extravehicular activity in microgravity. The team members are Garrett Post, of Alpine; Austen Williamson and Daniel Wisler, both of Cheyenne; Isaac Siurek, of Broomfield, Colorado.; Abigail Hobbs, of Denver, Colorado.; and Tyler Brewer and Nicholas Shields, of Littleton, Colorado.

Micro-g NExT encourages undergraduate students to design, build and test a tool or device that addresses an authentic, current space exploration challenge. The experience includes hands-on engineering design, test operations and public outreach. Micro-g NExT provides a unique opportunity for students to contribute to NASA’s missions, as the design challenges are identified by NASA engineers as necessary in space exploration missions. Read more.

Year One of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Date: December 21, 2022

The Biden Administration recently updated state and territory fact sheets that highlight the nationwide impact of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the largest long-term investment infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century. To date, $2.3 billion in funding has been announced and is headed to Wyoming with 70 specific projects identified for funding. Access information about Wyoming projects here.


Nuclear Power 2.0 Eyes Opportunity, Steep Climb in Coal Country

Date: December 21, 2022

The nuclear power industry sees its future in coal country. Compact, next-generation reactors can plug into existing transmission lines at shuttered plants to bring zero-emission electricity and high-paying jobs to communities from Wyoming to West Virginia, Bloomberg Law reports.

But realizing that vision—now backed by the Biden administration and Congress, with billions earmarked for the plan in last year’s historic infrastructure law—depends on winning over some of the most nuclear-skeptical places in the country. So the Energy Department is on an education mission to gain local support across rural America for what it believes can be a nuclear revival.

Hundreds of coal power plants have shut down across the US in the last decade, and a quarter of the current fleet of about 200 is expected to shutter by 2030, according to federal data. The Energy Department has spotted in that hard reality an opportunity to plug in the small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) expected to roll out by the end of the decade.

It envisions these smaller-footprint nuclear power generators working in tandem with solar, wind, and hydro to produce zero-emissions electricity where coal once reigned supreme. Read more.

Wyoming to Receive EV Charging Stations For $19 Million; None Likely Profitable

Date: November 17, 2022

According to federal guidelines for the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program, 17 EV charging stations would need to be built along Interstates 25, 80, and 90 through Wyoming, which would cost about $19 million of the $24 million available through the program over the next five years. It is unlikely any of the stations would be profitable, Cowboy State Daily reports. Wyoming only has a few hundred registered EVs, so the stations would primarily exist to help the state's tourism industry.

FHA approved its plan in September. A plan submitted by Wyoming's Department of Transportation in response asked for 11 exemptions to the federal rules, such as the requirement that stations be built every 50 miles along interstates. Only three exemptions were approved. A WYDOT spokesperson said the highway administration hasn't finalized all the rules for the program, which could take a few more months. WYDOT can’t issue requests for proposals until the rules are announced.

The WYDOT will be required to submit plans each year to receive the full $24 million available for the state's program. Find out more.


Wyoming is a Top Producing Energy State

Date: November 17, 2022

The US Department of the Interior announced more than $20 billion was generated from US energy production on federal land during fiscal year 2022 and renewables played a significant role, Wyoming Public Radio reports.

Wyoming brought in more than $1.6 billion from energy production on federal land over the last year, with the majority of the money coming from oil and gas production. For comparison, in fiscal year 2021 the revenue from Wyoming was about $1 billion.

"Here in Wyoming fossil fuel resources are largely still our bread and butter," said Shannon Anderson, the staff attorney for the Powder River Basin Resource Council. "Our commodity driven markets are really showing that. It's a fairly good year for that kind of development."

The only state that brought in more revenue this fiscal year was New Mexico with almost $6 billion, primarily from oil production which has been at an all-time high in the state this year. Read more.

 


Wyoming Selected for Major Carbon Storage Project

Date: September 21, 2022

CarbonCapture Inc., a US climate tech company that develops direct air capture (DAC) systems, is partnering with carbon storage developer Frontier Carbon Solutions on a project to permanently remove five million tons of atmospheric CO2 annually by 2030.

The partnership, named Project Bison, will deploy CarbonCapture’s DAC modules atop Frontier’s CO2 transportation and storage infrastructure in Wyoming. Wyoming was selected as the project’s location due to the broad availability of renewable and zero carbon energy sources as well as the favorable regulatory and operating environment for carbon storage. The project is expected to be operational by late 2023, at which point it would be the first atmospheric carbon removal facility to use Class VI wells for permanent storage as well as the first massively scalable DAC project in the United States. Read more.


New Platform Aims to Help Manufacturer Supply Chains

Date: September 21, 2022

To help solve supply chain issues for local manufacturers, Manufacturing Works is launching a free program called CONNEX Wyoming this month.

CONNEX Wyoming is a free online manufacturer database and connectivity platform for Wyoming manufacturers to connect with one another, find local suppliers, discover new business opportunities, and manage their supply chains. The goal is to strengthen the local and domestic manufacturing supply chain.

The platform will help manufacturers identify potential suppliers within the state based on their capabilities, not just current production. Results can then be filtered using hundreds of unique criteria such as equipment, processes, materials, and certifications to meet a manufacturer’s specific needs. Read more.

Jackson PE Named NSPE Fellow

Date: August 17, 2022

Zia Yasrobi, PE, FNSPE

NSPE has welcomed NSPE-WY member Zia Yasrobi, P.E., into its 2022 Class of Fellows. He joins seven other PEs in receiving the membership level that honors NSPE members who have demonstrated exemplary and devoted service to the profession, the Society, and their communities.

Yasrobi is the owner and manager of Y2 Consultants, based in Jackson, Wyoming. Currently, he serves as a director on the NSPE-WY Board. He previously served as member of the House of Delegates director, representing Wyoming in the national governing body of NSPE. He has also served as the Southwest Region Director and as a member of the national Board of Directors.


Wyoming to Get Up to $48M for Transportation Infrastructure

Date: August 17, 2022

Wyoming is receiving $9 million in fiscal year 2022 from the federal government. The state is eligible to get $48 million over five years, the Wyoming Tribute Eagle reports.

This money is meant "to address climate change with a focus on resilience planning, resilience improvements to existing transportation assets and evacuation routes, and at-risk highway infrastructure." This is according to a Friday announcement from the US Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration.

On a bigger monetary scale, FWA issued guidance and $7.3 billion in formula funding. It said it's meant to "help states and communities better prepare for and respond to extreme weather events like wildfires, flooding and extreme heat. This is a first-of-its-kind program."

The money comes from the federal infrastructure law. The Wyoming Tribune Eagle recently published a series of stories about how US government infrastructure money may be used locally. The new Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) formula program funding is available to states over five years. Read more.

Report Highlights Possibilities for Hydrogen Production in Wyoming

Date: July 20, 2021

According to a new report from the Wyoming Energy Authority and Cheyenne-Laramie County Corporation for Economic Development, 'Roadmap to Build a Hydrogen Economy,' the state could become a leader in its region for developing a low-carbon hydrogen economy.

Wyoming Public Media reports that the state is already well positioned to start producing hydrogen; with modifications, hydrogen can be created at wind, solar, and natural gas facilities.

Anja Bendel, the Wyoming Energy Authority program director, was quoted as saying she expects these modifications to start in the next three years because some private companies have expressed interest in taking on the projects.

Hydrogen is considered a clean energy source because when it is burned, it does not produce carbon dioxide.


Federal Funds Allocated to State Water Protection Projects

Date: July 20, 2021

In early July, the Department of the Interior announced a $36.1 million investment to safeguard local water supplies in the wake of record drought across the west, including a major project in Wyoming.

The D52 Lateral Piping and Shoshone River Sediment Reduction Project will receive $2 million. Another $100,000 will go to the New Fork River Gas Wells River Restoration and Fish Habitat Improvement project.

"Adequate and safe water supplies are fundamental to the health, economy and security of the country. By restoring ecosystems and improving the health of rivers and watersheds, we can provide more local communities reliable access to water," said Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton, in a news release.

More information can be found on the WaterSMART program webpage.

Support Program for Manufacturers Secures Continued Funding

Date: June 16, 2021

A Wyoming program that promotes innovation, manufacturing, and industrial competitiveness has been approved for five more years of federal funding.

Manufacturing Works (a partnership of the University of Wyoming, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Wyoming Business Council) was recently told it would receive $600,000 annually over the next five years from NIST. Later, NIST leaders added another $100,000 annual allocation each for Wyoming’s Manufacturing Works and other members of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership National Network, which has centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. MEP is administered by NIST, which is part of the US Department of Commerce.

The overarching goal of Manufacturing Works is to build a stronger and more prosperous Wyoming through enhanced economic security and improved quality of life. Services to manufacturers include broad technical assistance, engineering solutions, general business assistance, marketing assistance and financial counseling. Read more.


Wyoming in Unique Position on Coal

Date: June 16, 2021

At the recent Wyoming Energy Summit, Governor Mark Gordon stated that his is the first state to be in a position to go carbon negative without ending coal use, according to the Wyoming Business Report.

“Coal may actually be one of the best ways that we can start to incorporate carbon control, carbon capture, and then be able to deliver it in a sequestered way,” he said.

Environmental groups and some critics dislike the thinking behind carbon capture. However, it can be used in industries that are difficult to move away from carbon. Some in the natural gas industry are interested in carbon capture during the conversion of natural gas and the creation of a type of low-emissions hydrogen, the article said.

WY Partners with Idaho National Laboratory on Advanced Energy and Technologies

Date: May 16, 2021

Wyoming has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Batelle Energy Alliance, the operating contractor of the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), to collaborate in the research, development, demonstration, and deployment of advanced energy technologies and approaches, according to a news release.

The partnership will focus primarily on advanced nuclear technology; the nuclear fuel cycle; hydrogen production, transportation, and consumption in industrial applications; and other advanced energy systems through a regional to global approach. The MOU also encourages cooperation to ensure training and education for workers in the uranium and nuclear industries.

INL is a long-standing national industry leader and Wyoming has the natural resources, infrastructure, and technical expertise to provide affordable and secure energy across the US. The MOU, in place for five years, demonstrates Wyoming’s continued commitment to providing solutions to a shifting global marketplace that is increasingly moving toward decarbonized products.


WYDOT, Game And Fish Begin Work On $15M Wildlife Crossing Project

Date: May 16, 2021

A 17-mile wildlife crossing project in southwestern Wyoming will make a significant difference for mule deer in the region, according to a Cowboy State Daily report.

Josh Coursey, president and CEO of the Muley Fanatic Found, told Cowboy State Daily he was excited about the start of work on the Dry Piney Wildlife Crossing Project near LaBarge. “It’s a very expensive project at $15 million, but it’s truly the flavor of the day for how conservation in the 21st century works,” he said. “The one thing about overpasses and underpasses, you can quantify their success instantaneously.”

The project includes fencing about 17 miles of US Highway 189 and building nine underpasses beneath the highway. It should be complete by fall of 2023, Coursey said, but likely, at least a few of the underpasses will be open by the end of the year.

According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, there are an average of 6,000 collisions between vehicles and big game in Wyoming every year, which result in $20 million to $23 million in wildlife losses and $24 million to $29 million in personal injury costs.


Licensing Board News

Date: May 16, 2021

The Wyoming Board of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors has released the latest edition of the Wyoming Board Bulletin. Access the publication here.

Geothermal Potential in Wyoming to Be Examined

Date: April 19, 2021

The Wyoming Energy Authority and technology and services company Petrolern LLC plan to do a state-wide geothermal resource analysis, Think GeoEnergy reports. The evaluation contract will include an assessment of potential geothermal use in Wyoming for electricity production, direct use, and heat pump applications. A study on the potential of Petrolern’s Synthetic Geothermal Reservoir application will also be done.

“The Wyoming Energy Authority is excited to partner with Petrolern to study and better understand the geothermal energy opportunities that exist in Wyoming. Geothermal technology aligns well with our all-of-the-above net-zero energy strategy, and we hope to see it as a complement to all of the resources our office is exploring,” said Kaeci Daniels of the Wyoming Energy Authority.

Currently, there are no public studies assessing the feasibility of developing geothermal energy in the state.


Computerized Trucks Put Cheyenne at the Cutting Edge of Garbage Collection

Date: April 19, 2021

Cheyenne has become the first city in Wyoming to have computerized garbage trucks. The trucks track each stop that is made, what houses had their garbage collected, and how much was picked up, along with other data.

Interactive maps and routing technology add efficiency, as well, Cowboy State Daily reports.

The Cheyenne Sanitation Department recently installed software called Fleetmind in 13 of its trucks in an effort to help make its drivers more effective. A spokesperson said the department saw an increase in efficiency immediately. The software will be added to more trucks gradually over the next few months.

Septic System Failure Settlement Reached

Date: March 15, 2021

Crowley Capital has settled with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, admitting no fault in a series of septic-related violations at the Hoback RV Park, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reports.

In 2020, the company sent residents eviction notices because it planned to replace the septic system at the park, but it put in one with a lower capacity than was needed. This resulted in repeated backups that pooled on the grounds. This violated Wyoming environmental laws and led the Department of Environmental Quality to issue a July 2020 notice of violations. Ultimately, the department and Teton County worked with the park to install a new system that is up to code.


Wyoming to Hire Energy Strategist

Date: March 15, 2021

Governor Mark Gordon and the state legislature will fund the creation of a new energy development manager position. The manager will collaboratively with companies, policymakers and lawmakers to help recognize new energy sector opportunities, coordinate the efforts that are already in Wyoming, and those coming to the state.

The person hired into this position will develop a strategy and develop areas of focus, including coal and carbon capture, oil and gas, nuclear energy and uranium, rare earth minerals, hydrogen, and renewables, Jackson Hole Radio reports.

WYDOT Could Use Fuel Tax to Fund Infrastructure Renewal

Date: February 16, 2021

Meetings between the Wyoming Department of Transportation and the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce covered how the proposed fuel tax could improve the infrastructure of Wyoming and stabilize the future of our communities,  The Cheyenne Post reports.

Across the United States, funding for infrastructure is usually divided with 30% state burden and 70% federal burden. In Wyoming, the opposite is true, and the infrastructure is suffering as a result of the lack of federal funding.

With the proposed fuel tax, Wyoming would be able fulfill the required monetary match of federal grants and receive extensive federal funding to improve our infrastructure. This fuel tax is only 5 cents a year for three years, and would give the state access to federal funds that will repair, rebuild, and renew infrastructure to better serve communities across the state of Wyoming.


Wyoming Gets Almost $10 Million for Abandoned Mine Cleanup

Date: February 16, 2021

The Department of the Interior announced that it would give nearly $725 million to states this year for reclamation of abandoned mine lands. Wyoming will receive $9.7 million, according to a Billings Gazette report.

Another $725 million, authorized by the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in November, will be distributed among coal states annually over the next 15 years.

“This program is a shot in the arm for coal country and the energy communities that have long been forgotten and left behind,” Mitch Landrieu, White House infrastructure coordinator and senior advisor to the president, said during a call with reporters.

Wildlife Crossings Benefit Many in Wyoming

Date: January 19, 2021

Wyoming is a leader in successful wildlife crossing efforts thanks to collaboration between state agencies like the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Wyoming Department of Transportation, the Kilgore News Herald reports. Planned wildlife crossings reduce motorist and animal fatalities and crash costs, and helps facilitate species migration corridors.

Communication and data sharing between agencies like WYDOT and WGFD have given engineers a unique understanding of biologists’ concerns about traffic infrastructure and has contributed to Wyoming’s success in this area. Outreach to the public has garnered their support, as well. In December, Governor Mark Gordon dedicated $10 million to wildlife-crossing construction.


Game and Fish Hatchery Project Awarded for Engineering Excellence

Date: January 19, 2021

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s conservation engineering branch was recognized for its outstanding project to prevent flooding at the Boulder Rearing Station. The Association of Conservation Engineers selected the project as the recipient of the 2021 Annual Carl V. Anderson Engineering Award of Excellence.

Each year, the station raises approximately 35,000 pounds of fish to release into Wyoming waters. Flooding can bring disease and aquatic invasive species infestation into the facility.

The WGFD contracted with Sunrise Engineering to design structures and systems to prevent flooding. The department’s engineers oversaw the design and construction of a complex levy and pump system. The project was completed in the summer of 2021 and protects many trout species raised at the station. Engineering solutions like these for fish health and aquatic invasive species prevention can last as long as 75 years. Find out more.

Nuclear Power Could Be a Lifeline in Wyoming

Date: December 15, 2021

A power company and individuals facing job losses in Wyoming are hoping nuclear energy will take off in the state as coal mines close. Rocky Mountain Power and nuclear developer TerraPower, in partnership with the federal government, laid plans this year to build a reactor together on an ambitious schedule, reports the Casper Star Tribune. Even if they can finish the 345-megawatt demonstration reactor by 2028, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would have to approve the plant based on many factors.

TerraPower and proponents hope nuclear can fill the gap in electricity generation and provide jobs that will be lost when four coal plants close in coming years. Several other states have been working to lift nuclear bans and partnering with the federal government to build reactors, according to Bloomberg Law.


Environmental Engineering and Technology Fields Could Help Economic Diversification

Date: December 15, 2021

As Wyoming struggles to diversify its economy, some believe engineering and technology jobs will be a key component of that effort. At the recent Governor’s Business Forum, most attendees said they thought attracting young people to fulfilling jobs in those fields would be the best bet for diversification in the state, according to Wyoming Public Media. Innovation and finding new options for energy sources were cited as global trends influencing the importance of engineering jobs.

Pumped Storage Project Would Enable Additional Hours of Clean Energy Use

Date: November 17, 2021

Plans are in the works for a pumped storage project that could provide around 900MW of pumped hydro capacity for 10 hours, helping maximize the use of locally generated wind energy, reports Energy Storage News. Infrastructure design, engineering, and project services company Stantec has been hired by developer rPlus Hydro to conduct a feasibility study for the project, which would be located at Wyoming’s Seminoe Reservoir in Carbon County. Also, underground facilities will be researched via a geotechnical study.


Exxon to Expand its Carbon Capture Operation in Wyoming

Date: November 17, 2021

ExxonMobil has initiated the process for engineering, procurement and construction contracts as part of its plans to expand carbon capture and storage at its LaBarge, Wyoming, facility, which has already captured more CO2 than any other facility in the world. The expansion project will capture up to 1 million metric tons of CO2, in addition to the 6-7 million metric tons already captured at LaBarge each year.

The International Energy Agency projects carbon capture and storage could mitigate up to 15% of global emissions by 2040, and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates global decarbonization efforts could be twice as costly without wide-scale deployment of carbon capture and storage.

Could Solar Work Well for Wyoming? One Influencer Says Yes

Date: October 19, 2021

Dave Dodson, a former Wyoming candidate for the US Senate, has published an opinion piece for Wyofile.com arguing that constructing solar energy farms is an ideal way for Wyoming to use its expansive land and create jobs as the coal mining industry declines. He writes that the cost of constructing utility-scale projects has decreased by 80% in the past 10 years, citing figures from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Also, Dodson says, the cost of storing electricity has decreased by 70% during the same period. After mines close, he continues, the land where they were located is graded, making it perfect for solar farms.

“With solar projects, teams of skilled electricians and construction workers are required to construct the frames, install the solar panels and build a powerplant to prepare the energy for transmission,” Dodson writes. “Our greatest state asset is not the coal under the ground, but the thousands of skilled workers displaced as mines and operations close down.”

Power Company Backs Away from Coal, Drawing Complaints

Date: September 13, 2021

PacifiCorp’s decision to close its coal-fired power plants in Wyoming by 2039 is being met with skepticism, according to the Casper Tribune. Some say the utility’s plan doesn’t go far enough toward limiting greenhouse gases. Others, like Governor Mark Gordon, believe the utility is limiting its energy options by moving away from coal.

PacifiCorp plans to focus on renewable generation, battery storage, and TerraPower’s advanced nuclear proposal. It will not build any new fossil fuel generation capacity, and it plans to reduce its natural gas capacity as well.


Grant Will Help Fund New Casper Bridge

Date: September 13, 2021

The Casper City Council voted to authorize an agreement with WyDOT that will provide $500,000 toward construction of a new bridge that will give pedestrians and bicyclists a safe route to access neighborhoods and schools, reports Oil City News. The $1.25 million project will connect the Paradise Valley area and Robertson Road. Previously, the city council approved a contract with HDR Engineering for project design services.

Water Projects Move Forward as Lake Powell Dries Up

Date: August 11, 2021

As Lake Powell dropped to its lowest-ever level — a decline that has forced dam tenders to unexpectedly release 125,000 acre-feet of water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir — Wyoming stood behind five projects that could divert tens of thousands more acre-feet from waterways in the troubled Colorado River Basin, reports WyoFile.

The five projects are 1) construction of a new dam that could release an additional 9,400 acre-feet annually from New Fork Lake, 2) raising the Big Sandy Dam to hold back more water for irrigation, 3) reconstructing the Middle Piney Dam to impound 3,370 acre-feet there, 4) accessing historically unused water from Fontenelle Reservoir, and 5) building a 280-foot-high concrete dam to impound 10,000 acre-feet on the West Fork of Battle Creek.

Top officials told WyoFile that the state will not be deterred from its water development goals that would store, divert or otherwise use another 115,000 acre-feet in the upper reaches of the 246,000-square-mile Colorado River system.


Solar Farm Planned for Riverton

Date: August 11, 2021

A Wyoming-based company is planning a 250-megawatt solar array east of Riverton, reports the Wyoming News Exchange. The project will require 300 full-time construction workers for two years as well as 25 technicians, five full-time electrical engineers, and five security personnel, for a total wage impact of $4.72 million, the article states. Legend Inc., the project developer, says the solar farm would be the largest in Wyoming and the fifth-largest in the United States.

Wind power, however, still has a big lead over solar in the Cowboy State.

Erin Gates, P.E., Honored as NSPE Fellow

Date: July 21, 2021

Erin Gates, PE

Wyoming civil engineer Erin Gates, P.E., who has served the Society at the national, state, and chapter levels with distinction, was recently named an NSPE Fellow. Gates is an active member of WySPE’s Cheyenne Chapter, a member of the WySPE board, and a member of the NSPE House of Delegates. She has also served as chair of NSPE’s Young Engineers Advisory Council and has been a MATHCOUNTS chapter coordinator for nine years.

As a project engineer at BenchMark Engineers P.C., Gates’s primary responsibilities include hydraulic modeling, analysis and design of new and rehabilitative improvements to both water and sanitary sewer systems.


Budget Cuts Force Changes in Engineering at UW

Date: July 21, 2021

Due to a significant change in state funding, the University of Wyoming is planning a number of changes, including within engineering, reports Cowboy State Daily. The departments of Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering would be removed from the College of Engineering and continue to be offered under other programs. Additionally, the Department of Chemical Engineering would be discontinued, but its degrees would be maintained under a reorganized unit that would include the current Department of Chemistry. The College of Engineering and Applied Science is slated to become the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

Architectural engineering is also earmarked for elimination, reports WyoFile. Not long ago, the state emphasized engineering education, the article says. The state spent more than $26 million from 2012-14 to bring the College of Engineering and Applied Science up to “Tier 1” status. Then, lawmakers approved $105 million to construct an Engineering Education and Research Building that opened in 2019.

“Thanks to scaled-back funding that has resulted in fewer professors and PhD students, UW is moving backward in its goal to become one of the country’s top engineering schools. Interim Dean Cameron Wright told WyoFile that faculty sizes are so small, required courses are only taught once a year, and he must hire 20-30 temporary lecturers each semester to accomplish even that.”

Next-Gen Nuclear Reactor Coming To Wyoming

Date: June 8, 2021

Wyoming has had a prominent place in the nuclear news cycle over the past couple weeks. As reported in Power Engineering, a next-generation, small nuclear plant will be built at a soon-to-be retired coal-fired power plant in Wyoming in the next several years. The plant featuring a sodium reactor and molten salt energy storage system will perform better, be safer and cost less than traditional nuclear power, Microsoft cofounder and TerraPower founder and chairman Bill Gates said. Bellevue, Washington-based TerraPower is working with Rocky Mountain Power, an electric utility serving Wyoming and other Western states, to put the Natrium reactor at one of four of the utility’s power plants in Wyoming, with the location to be decided later this year.

The Casper Star Tribune quoted Jacopo Buongiorno, a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT: “It is certainly going to be one of the first pioneering groundbreaking projects in small modular reactors.”

Along with Berkshire Hathaway Energy subsidiary PacifiCorp and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, members of the demonstration project team include engineering and construction partner Bechtel, Energy Northwest, Duke Energy and nearly a dozen additional companies, universities and national laboratory partners, according to World Nuclear News.


Innovation Center Breaks Ground in Gillette

Date: June 8, 2021

After more than four years of working to secure funding, supporters of the Wyoming Innovation Center have broken ground for the new facility, reports the Gillette News Record. The facility, formerly known as the Advanced Carbon Products Innovation Center, will be located on 9.5 acres at a former mine site north of Gillette. It will allow businesses and researchers to test technologies on a larger scale. Seven pilot pads will range from 24,150 square feet to 42,000 square feet, office and lab space, and a building dedicated to processing materials such as coal, rare earth minerals, and fly ash.

“I couldn’t overstate how important that is,” said the executive director of the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources. “Technologies go through a valley of death, and one of the hardest points is when they’re at the pilot scale.”

The Stuff That Engineers’ Dreams Are Made Of

Date: May 17, 2021

In response to the Biden Administration’s request for large infrastructure ideas, WYDOT has pitched some imaginative ones, reports Sheridan Media. Among their ideas are tunnels through Teton Pass and Wind River Canyon and rerouting a dangerous section of I-80 near Elk Mountain. The request was made in the context of Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan, which still needs to pass Congress. Other ideas include electric vehicle charging stations and airport improvements.


Grants Boost State’s Carbon Capture Efforts

Date: May 17, 2021

The US Department of Energy has announced $99 million in grants to study technology that removes carbon from industrial exhaust and uses it for other purposes, like manufacturing. More than half that money went to Wyoming’s Integrated Test Center, a facility based out of the Dry Fork Power Station in Gillette, reports WyoFile. For roughly half a decade, state leaders and the private sector have lobbied for federal buy-in to the idea that with the right investment, the technology called carbon capture utilization and storage — or CCUS — could play a role in combating climate change and become a viable facet of the nation’s energy portfolio. Critics, however, doubt that increased federal support for CCUS will result in more viable projects or heightened competitiveness for coal and other fossil fuels.

White House Pegs Drinking Water Price Tag at $458 Million

Date: April 21, 2021

The White House says Wyoming’s drinking water infrastructure will require $458 million in additional funding over the next 20 years, according to Oil City News. The estimate, part of a fact sheet released in concert with President Biden’s “American Jobs Plan.” The plan, which includes a $111 billion investment in safe drinking water, was characterized as “an out-of-control socialist spending spree” by Wyoming’s U.S. Sen. John Barrasso. The Caspar Star Tribune also reported on the opposition to the plan.


Opinion: Jackson Hole Water Needs Protection Plan

Date: April 21, 2021

While Teton County scored high in the Healthy Communities rankings by US News & World Report, the county was deficient in providing safe drinking water to its residents. In a column for the Jackson Hole News & Guide, Paul Hansen notes that the report found 29% of our the county’s population is served by drinking water systems that violate EPA standards. The findings are no surprise, writes Hansen. “Teton County has 114 private water systems, the most in the state, all with separate boards and little coordination and oversight. Only three have source water protection plans, which are required by the Safe Drinking Water Act and in place in every state except Wyoming. It is well past time for all Teton County drinking water systems to have a simple source water protection plan.” Add to the mix 3,600 largely unregulated septic systems that are a major source of water pollution.

“Clean water is one of the most basic requirements of a healthy ecosystem and community. Protecting the water quality of Jackson and Teton County is essential to the ecosystem and scenic beauty that residents and visitors enjoy. The public has the right to clean, affordable drinking water.”

Wyoming Infrastructure News in Brief

Date: March 18, 2021

  • Cheyenne Regional Airport receives a $62 million infrastructure investment, mostly from federal sources. (WyomingNews.com)
  • Governor criticizes Biden administration for hampering oil and gas development. (Casper Star Tribune)
  • Business community has conflicting views on gas tax to pay for road improvements. (County 17)
  • The Rocky Mountain Region will receive $31.5 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service for 90 projects in a five-year program The funding will be used to address infrastructure and deferred maintenance needs, enhance economic benefits, and improve recreation and public access on national forests. (WyomingNews.com)

Solar Facility To Support UW’s Clean Energy Curriculum

Date: March 18, 2021

The University of Wyoming is partnering with a clean energy nonprofit on a research facility that includes a 3 MW solar installation, reports PV magazine. The effort is one step toward creating a clean energy engineering curriculum at UW. The facility, which is under construction, will be located on the Laramie ranch of a UW College of Engineering and Applied Science alumnus who is also cofounder of the 9H Research Foundation.

The 3 MW solar installation will be powered by Series 6 modules from First Solar, the largest US solar manufacturer. First Solar made a $300,000 in-kind donation to 9H, giving more than 2,000 advanced thin film solar photovoltaic modules totaling nearly 1 megawatt of capacity.

Governor Signs Universal Occupational Bill

Date: February 17, 2021

Late last year, we shared that WySPE had provided testimony before the Joint Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Interim Committee regarding proposed Universal Occupational Licensure legislation, including temporary permits for military spouses. Universal Occupational Licensure was signed into law by Governor Mark Gordon on February 9, 2021.

Introduced in January, SF18,  Universal Occupational Licensure, affects out-of-state licensees across almost all occupations becoming licensed in Wyoming.  Additionally, SF18 creates a three-year “temporary practice permit” for military spouses, “provided the military spouse is making progress toward satisfying the unmet licensure requirements, or until the professional or occupational license for which they have applied has been either granted or denied, whichever first occurs.”  The Wyoming Board of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors has received very few military spouse applications and processes them quickly.The bill was heard and passed by the Senate in late January.  Early this month, WySPE President Travis Conklin testified several times before the House Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Committee.

Again, WySPE shared the importance of the Professional Engineers license in protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public.  We also expressed concern over three-year temporary permits for Engineers when the State Board can process permanent licenses expeditiously.  Shannon Stanfill, Executive Director of the Wyoming Board of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors, testified that 75% of licensees requesting licensure through reciprocity have a license issued in seven days or less.

WySPE, worked with Representatives Dan Laursen and Evan Simpson, P.E.,  on a successful amendment that requires “substantial equivalency” in academic requirements. This amendment will facilitate the Wyoming State Board to continue evaluating candidates based on education and experience and act as quickly as possible to help candidates become licensed when reasonable without the need to issue temporary licenses.


E-Week Program Features PE Who Climbed Everest

Date: February 17, 2021

Thursday, February 25th at 7pm, you are invited to attend “Reaching New Heights,” a virtual program presented by Professional Engineer Alan Mallory.

Following two years of planning, Alan embarked on a  two month expedition through some of the most exciting yet terrifying conditions imaginable climbing Mount Everest. Alan’s dynamic program is builtaround this incredible experience.   It is an engaging visual and educational journey packed with tools, strategies and innovative ideas that attendees can put into action to make positive changes in their professional and personal lives. Alan puts specific emphasis on maintaining a future mindset, adapting to challenges, mutual goals, overcoming adversity, empowering others, and developing professional relationships.

This live virtual event is presented by NSPE-Colorado, and they are extending their member rate of $20 to WySPE. Click here to register and get more information.


Bills Fund Water System Improvements

Date: February 17, 2021

The Wyoming House and Senate both approved two water bills that will fund upgrades to aging water infrastructure, reports WyoFile. Among the appropriations: $4.3 million to study replacement of the Ambursen-style LaPrele Dam and $7.3 million to rehabilitate the Salt Creek water line to Midwest and Edgerton north of Casper. One provision in the bills would transfer $7.5 million from a planning to a rehabilitation account to help fund the LaPrele reconstruction. The article says, “The 137-foot high, 325-foot long dam, finished in 1909, may be the poster child for suspect, aging infrastructure.” The 45-mile water line serving Midwest and Edgerton has its own problems. “Until it recently failed, part of the towns’ water system operated on a Windows 95 program and a dial-up modem, consultants wrote. Now operators manipulate valves manually. Water meters are plagued by freezing, poorly insulated pits and neglect.”


UW Program Aims to Improve Construction Training During COVID

Date: February 17, 2021

Two educators at the University of Wyoming tell about the civil and architectural engineering department’s effort to improve the state’s workforce training in the construction sector in an opinion piece for Engineering News-Record. While many companies had to recruit construction talent from other states, the department developed a four-year construction management degree and workforce training programs, along with a certificate training program. The authors write, “Lectures and class discussions as well as group projects are carried out on Zoom and other online platforms as if meeting in person. This teaching modality allows industry practitioners from across the state to participate in training without leaving their offices or jobsites.”


Wyoming Job Opportunities

Date: February 17, 2021

Engineering Project Manager
North Fork Engineering

Senior Civil Engineer/Project Manager
Trihydro Corporation

See other engineering job opportunities on the NSPE Job Board.

Pedestrian Safety Becomes Priority in Cody

Date: January 21, 2021

The Wyoming Department of Transportation is calling for a study of a busy road in Cody, near a middle school, according to the Powell Tribune. WYDOT’s goal is to create a safe crossing on busy Big Horn Avenue, which doubles as US Highway 14-A within the city. The road is a major route that links businesses to Cody and surrounding communities. Major housing developments built north of the highway, however, have not included long-range pedestrian mobility planning. “This plan must include school traffic, vehicular traffic and pedestrian movements on both sides of the highway,” WYDOT’s district engineer said, “so science-based engineering decisions can be made.”

Late last year, the US DOT issued what it is calling a “first-of-its-kind” Pedestrian Safety Action Plan. But with pedestrian fatalities on the rise, PEs and traffic safety consultants are up against what some are calling “the most shocking and disturbing trend in highway safety that I’ve seen in my lifetime.”


Power Plant Considered for Carbon Capture

Date: January 21, 2021

The Dave Johnston Power Plant in Glenrock, set for retirement in 2027, is drawing interest as a possible carbon capture facility, reports Wyoming Public Media. Jupiter Oxygen and Glenrock Petroleum both considering the 922 megawatt coal-fired power plant, owned by Pacificorp. Opponents say elected officials need to whether unproven carbon capture technology or readily available low-cost renewable energy will be better for utility customers.


Report Calls WYDOT Funding Levels ‘Unsustainable’

Date: December 16, 2020

The finances of WYDOT may be worse than thought. A report presented to the legislature stated that “the current level of unmet need is actually upward of $350 million across the agency’s entire budget, well in excess of the $135 million that WYDOT had previously estimated would be necessary to preserve the state’s highways as they exist today,” reports the Casper Star Tribune. Among the department’s challenges: budget reductions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, flat revenue from the state’s fuel tax, and “long-unaddressed funding concerns, like computer system upgrades.”


Highway Conditions Suffer Significant Decline

Date: December 16, 2020

Wyoming’s highway system ranks 36th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Reason Foundation’s Annual Highway Report. This is a 25-spot decline from the previous report, where Wyoming ranked 11th overall. Wyoming’s urban Interstate and urban arterial pavement condition rankings dropped to 50th this year. Read the state summaries.

WYSPE Update

Date: November 18, 2020

Earlier this month WySPE provided testimony to the Joint Committee on Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions on a proposed Universal Occupational Licensure bill. One of the major aspects of the proposed bill is allowing military spouses licensed in other states temporary licensure in Wyoming lasting up to three years, in almost all occupations and professions.

Erin Gates, P.E., WySPE member and Wyoming’s representative to the NSPE House of Delegates, spoke to the committee. She shared WySPE’s thoughts on the value of the licensed Professional Engineer to the health and safety of the public and the necessity for PEs understanding Wyoming law.  WySPE shared our support for military families but expressed
concern over the proposed duration of the temporary licensure. The Wyoming Board of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors typically completes the process for licensure in Wyoming quickly for those covered by the proposed bill and others.

The Joint Committee on Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions approved the proposed bill being introduced during the upcoming legislative session. WySPE will continue to monitor this and other legislation related to the licensure of Professional Engineers.

The WySPE Board of Directors approved updates to the WySPE Bylaws at the November board meeting. The WySPE Bylaws had not been updated for many years, and the boards work brings the bylaws into agreement with the Constitutional amendments that were approved resoundingly by membership earlier this year. The Constitution provides the broad definition and direction of WySPE. The Bylaws provide more of the detail and day to day process information. Per the Constitution, Bylaws are considered and approved by the board.

Many of the changes were simply clean-up of language or updating to current times. For example, the Bylaws were last updated before email. Language in the bylaws now include wording that allows for electronic notices or votes. Other changes included reflecting the current business model with NSPE, where dues are set and collected nationally in conjunction with the states. Our thanks to everyone who has been a part of the Constitutional amendments and Bylaws update process.


Wind Farm Regs May Include PE Requirement

Date: November 18, 2020

As wind energy projects gain traction, commissioners in Albany County are considering updating commercial wind energy siting regulations, reports the Laramie Boomerang. Among the supported rules is one that would require developers to use a Wyoming PE or architect to routinely inspect projects for compliance. Last winter, a Texas company proposed a 504-megawatt wind farm south of Laramie. The farm could include 85-150 turbines on 26,000 acres of state and private land. A draft environmental impact statement is expected by the end of the year.


A Shot at Highway Engineers

Date: November 18, 2020

In a guest opinion column in the Jackson Hole News and Guide, a Teton County commissioner takes aim at highway engineers for allowing high speeds and unsafe conditions on Hwy 390. The author opines that “we live in a dictatorship of highway engineers.” He adds:

“Here’s the challenge: WYDOT controls Highway 390. Its highway engineers are dedicated public servants. I am especially grateful to the local WYDOT folks who plow snow and maintain our highways. The issue is that speed limits are determined by an agency dominated by a single professional caste: highway engineers. These speed limits do not adequately account for competing values. Their priorities are not the priorities of folks who live along the road and certainly not the priorities of the moose and other critters that inhabit the corridor. The highway engineering profession creates conditions in which motor vehicles move fast and efficiently, while discounting competing values. Period.”

In an earlier article in the Rawlins Times about the issue on 390, a WYDOT district maintenance engineer said, “The multiple requests received to reduce the speed limit are just not supported by engineering data.” Some people, including the author of News and Guide opinion piece, argue that the highway should be the responsibility of the county, not the state, but others are concerned about the additional tax burden on residents.


Energy Plan Raises Commission’s Eyebrows

Date: October 28, 2020

The Wyoming Public Service Commission has concluded that the energy plan of the state’s largest electrical provider “lacks proper analysis, transparency and modeling, and doesn’t adequately consider other alternatives, such as nuclear power or adding carbon capture to coal plants,” according to an article by WyoFile. The 2019 plan, issued by PacifiCorp/Rocky Mountain Power covers electricity delivery over the next 20 years, called for the early retirement of several Wyoming coal-fired units and emphasis on renewable generation and storage. The PSC took the unusual step of investigating the plan, although no immediate action is expected.


Time to Replace Fuel Tax with Road User Charge?

Date: October 28, 2020

Under the pressure of budget shortfalls and deteriorating roads, WYDOT has proposed replacing the state’s $0.24/gallon fuel tax with a road user charge, according to Oil City News. A draft bill has been proposed but not introduced in the legislature. The draft proposes rates of 2.15 cents per mile for passenger cars and 2.87 cents per mile for pick-up trucks. Commercial trucks would pay 10.32 cents per mile. “WYDOT says it currently faces a $135 million annual budget shortfall and that the poor condition of Wyoming’s roads is having a compounding negative effect on its economy,” the article states.

WySPE Constitution Update

As we have shared in recent newsletters and at the annual meeting in February, WySPE is working to update the organization’s Constitution.

The governing documents for the Wyoming Society of Professional Engineers were last updated in 1981. WySPE is governed by a Constitution that provides the broad structure for the organization, and Bylaws that provide more operational details.

To amend the Constitution, a minimum of 20 percent of our membership must vote, and amendments must pass by a 2/3 or greater majority. The board is responsible for updating the Bylaws and will complete that when the Constitutional amendments are completed.

Recently, NSPE nationally changed the membership model and that impacts our Constitution. The ballot provides brief explanations on these issues. Also, over time there have been changes that need to be reflected in the governing documents (the ability to vote electronically, for instance). If you would rather have a ballot mailed to you or wish to object to our conducting electronic voting prior to that officially being recognized in an amended constitution, please let us know.

See the existing Constitution as amended in 1981.
(Attachment)

You are asked to vote on five questions, which group proposed amendments by topic. If you favor all of the amendments grouped on a question, vote yes. If you oppose any of the items in the grouping, vote no. You can only vote once.

If you have any problems voting, or have any questions, please contact Steve Conklin, our executive director, by email at steveconklin@q.com or at (303) 909-0479.

Access the ballot.


NTSB Report and NSPE's Action on this Issue

Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sent letters to the governors of 31 states named in its final report on the Merrimack Valley gas pipeline explosions, including Wyoming. The letter requests an end to the engineering license exemption for gas pipeline operators in these states, and asks for governors to provide an update to the NTSB with in 90 days.

When the NTSB began its investigation of the Merrimack Valley gas pipeline explosions, investigative staff reached out to NSPE seeking information about licensing exemptions. Through a series of conversations and emails, NSPE shared report data, information on the licensing process and requirements, and its Position Statement on licensing exemptions. Consequently, NSPE was successful in getting the NTSB to adopt a policy of addressing and eliminating engineering license exemptions within the gas pipeline industry.

NSPE’s national staff continues to be in conversation with NTSB staff, and will continue to share updates as they happen. We are happy to support state efforts at eliminating this exemption.

Read the full report from NTSB.

NTSB Report and Recommendations

Pipeline explosionA BURNED-OUT MASSACHUSETTS HOME AFTER THE GAS EXPLOSIONS
CREDIT: NTSB

NTSB has released an abstract of its forthcoming final report on the fatal Merrimack Valley pipeline explosion from September of last year. Final revisions are being made to the report, but in the report’s synopsis/executive summary, NTSB states that “requiring a licensed professional engineer to stamp plans would illustrate that the plans had been approved by an accredited professional with the requisite skills, knowledge, and experience to provide a comprehensive review.” Acknowledging the importance of the role of the PE in preventing an event like this from occurring, NTSB recommends the elimination of the licensing exemption on natural gas pipeline projects in the 31 states that have the exemption in place, including the state of Wyoming.

Read the synopsis of the report.


Wyoming Engineering Society engineers met with Munger Mountain Elementary School 4th graders.

Wyoming Engineering Society engineers met with Munger Mountain Elementary School 4th graders to explain the exciting work professional engineers do. Y2 Consultants were able to share site plans of the school and show the students the design process for a new soccer field.

Continued participation in the project and a selfless contribution to the expansion of educational opportunities for the community’s youth are key values to many members of the society throughout the year.

Wyoming Society and students