The Rail Tie Wind Project is a planned 504 MW onshore wind project that will be located near the town of Tie Siding in the US state of Wyoming.
The project, being developed by ConnectGen Albany County LLC (ConnectGen), will include an area of approximately 26,000 acres of private and state-owned ranchland.
Rail Tie Wind will entail a capital investment of more than $500m.
The final engineering and pre-construction planning activities for the project are currently underway.
The project will be built in two stages of 252MW each separated by Highway 287. The West stage is expected to become operational by the end of 2023 and the East by the end of 2024.
Once operational, the project is estimated to produce up to 2,000,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of emission-free energy annually, enough to power 180,000 homes.
Location and site details
ConnectGen selected Albany County to develop the wind project to leverage its wind resource, which is said to be one of the strongest in the western US. The county already features several operational wind projects.
Additionally, the Rail Tie Wind Project will use the existing transmission system in Albany County eliminating the need for building new lines for transmission.
The project is located in Albany County near Tie Siding.
The location was finalised following the completion of environmental diligence studies and discussions with federal, state and local agencies throughout 2019.
The project area will include 26,000 acres of ranchland. The project infrastructure including wind turbines and other project facilities will be located within the area.
ConnectGen has also developed 1,000ft wide turbine siting corridors to host the turbines.
The Western Area Power Administration’s (WAPA) Ault-Craig 345-kV transmission line bisects the Rail Tie project area from east to west.
ConnectGen has considered different turbine models with capacities between 3 MW and 6 MW for the Rail Tie Wind Project but intends to use the Vestas V150-4.2 turbine. This turbine has a capacity of 4.2MW with a total height of 590.5ft.
The overall project will feature around 120 turbines, provided the same model is finalised. According to the plan, the turbines will be arranged in collinear strings within the 1,000-foot-wide corridors to minimise environmental impact.
The project will have two 345-kV substations. One of them will connect power generation facilities located east of US 287, while the second one is for the facilities on the western side of the highway.
Both the substation sites would encompass a fenced area of up to 5 acres and will feature one or two main power transformers.
The eastern substation would connect to WAPA’s interconnection switchyard through the 345-kV overhead transmission line, while the western substation will connect to WAPA’s interconnection switchyard via jumpers.
The project will be connected to the Ault-Craig 345-kV transmission line through a new 345-kV interconnection switchyard in the project area.
Once complete, WAPA would own, operate, and maintain the switchyard as part of its transmission system.
Up to 60 miles of new access roads as well as temporary crane paths will be constructed as part of the project.
Additionally, the project will also have at least three self-supported 105m long meteorological towers and an approximately 7,000ft2 operations and maintenance building within a securely fenced area of about five acres.
A Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system will be used to collect and integrate the operating data from wind turbines and the project substations.
ConnectGen will also use the SCADA system or the O&M facility to operate the wind turbines remotely.
In July 2022, the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) issued a Record-of-Decision (ROD) approving ConnectGen’s two interconnect requests to interconnect the Rail Tie Wind Project to the Ault-Craig 345-kV transmission line.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project was released in November 2021.
Additionally, ConnectGen received green light for the Rail Tie project from the Albany County Board of County Commissioners in July 2021, from the Wyoming State Board of Land Commissioners in January 2021 and from the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council in November 2021.
WAPA's System impact studies (SIS), which were completed in 2020, concluded that additional system upgrades were not required to accommodate ConnectGen's proposed Project.