Legal Updates

Solar Energy Permitting in Wyoming: New Tool to Help Developers

Wyoming is anticipating a number of new utility scale solar projects in the coming years citing increased interest from developers. To support this development, the Wyoming Energy Authority, Renewable Energy Coordination Committee recently published the Guide to Permitting Solar Energy Projects in Wyoming (the Guide). The Guide explains permitting authority and development considerations at the local, state, and federal regulatory levels.

At the end of 2020, solar accounted for only 0.43% of the state’s electricity.[1] This figure includes Wyoming’s first and only completed utility scale solar project on federal land, the 97.9 MW Sweetwater Solar facility. Some additional projects are in the works. The 240 MW Dinosolar facility is in development on private property in Natrona County outside the city of Bar Nunn. And, PacifiCorp, Rocky Mountain Power, is proposing an additional 1,415 MW of new solar capacity in the state by 2038 according to its 2019 Integrated Resource Plan. There are also two private land projects in Lincoln County working through the various levels of permitting.

Each of these projects is likely to encounter unique permitting issues that will require resolving competing land uses. For example, one of the issues that had to be resolved in the permitting of the Sweetwater Solar facility, was a potential conflict with mineral development. The Sweetwater site location was in an area that the BLM manages for trona development and the company had to work with BLM to locate the project in an area not managed for current development. Another issue raised during siting was the impact on wildlife migration corridors and how to reduce that potential impact. On the Dinosolar project the developer had to contend with the Natrona County regulations, which were adopted only after the project was announced. Other counties may also adopt a regulatory framework when a project is announced in their jurisdiction.

To help future developers navigate similar permitting issues, the Wyoming Energy Authority has provided the Guide. We highlight below some of the key content in the Guide.

Local Permitting

The minimum requirements for industrial development and siting in Wyoming are found in W.S. § 35-12-101, et seq. Four Wyoming counties, Carbon, Laramie, Natrona, and Sheridan, have also enacted additional requirements. The general procedure is:

  1. Developer submits an application to the Board of County Commissioners;
  2. County reviews the application for compliance with Wyoming law and local ordinances if applicable, and responds to applicant if incomplete with additional requirements;
  3. When application is complete Board will hold a public hearing;
  4. Board will make a decision within 45 days after hearing and grant the permit if the project is in compliance with statutory and county requirements.

While the Guide offers brief comments and contact information for each county, a developer will need to research each county where a project will be sited independently.

State Permitting

Federal Permitting and Regulatory Requirements

Each of these agencies will have their own requirements, only some of which are explained in the Guide. In addition to consulting the Guide, solar developers will need to refer to the specific policies, guidance, and regulations of each agency. Particularly at BLM and USFS, developers will need to review agency manuals, handbooks, instruction memorandums, and directives.

Wyoming’s contribution to the domestic energy supply from coal, uranium and oil and gas is significant and the opportunities for renewable energy development to add to the state’s energy contribution are only just beginning.

[1] Solar Energy Industries Association, Wyoming Solar,