Latest News

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