Wold Companies branching out to wind development
By Jennifer Womack, WLR Managing Editor
Casper – Wold Companies have long been known for their work with Wyoming’s mineral industry, but newer to their portfolio is work in Wyoming’s wind industry.
“Whirlwind, LLC is a small company that is a subsidiary of Wold Companies,” says Hollis “Holly” Wold. “Our main office has been on 2nd Street in Casper for nearly 50 years.” About eight years ago the company opened an office in Denver. Wold says the expansion allowed them access to a larger airport and the offices of many of the nation’s leading companies for their work in the mineral industry.
“A couple of years ago,” she recounts, “when people started talking more about wind, Jack Wold and Peter Wold, who had spent their entire lives in Casper, said if there’s anywhere for wind development it’s Casper.” She also notes the family’s 30-year presence in the Wyoming ranching industry in their approach to wind development.
Since formation of Whirlwind, the Wolds have secured leases for wind development on Bureau of Land Management property in various Wyoming counties and partnered with some of the state’s landowners. “They approached a large ranching group in southern Wyoming,” says Wold noting the need for the landowner group to remain anonymous. Data collection began and Wold expects the company’s first project to be on-line by the end of next year.
“Currently we only have projects in Wyoming,” says Wold, “because we feel our company has been in Wyoming for so long that we know where the windy spots are. It gives us an advantage over other companies.”
She also says Whirlwind operates under a different philosophy. “Our strategy is not just to go in and make upfront payments, but to have the landowner be more a part of our project.” While upfront cash and royalties are appealing, she believes landowners stand to make more with a little patience and partial ownership in the project.
“They come in as we do, as a developer,” she explains. “They get the same kinds of financing.” She says the approach doesn’t require any upfront cash or payment from the landowner. “They’re going to reap greater returns by being patient,” she says. “We feel it’s an approach that’s not only going to benefit today’s rancher, but the generations beyond today.”
While some companies have avoided federal lands, Wold says her company looks for the best wind regardless of whether it’s over publicly or privately held land. Across the state, she says the BLM permitting process has varied slightly but that they’ve found the federal agency open to wind development. “If people are interested in wind development and they’d like to speak with someone, even on an informal basis, I’m always looking to meet with new people and broaden the knowledge of renewable energy possibilities in the state,” says Wold. She can be reached in Denver at 303-831-0575 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I think that wind is a resource that is going to bring money to the state, to ranchers and landowners, and to counties through property taxes,” says Wold. “I really think that it’s another source of energy that can enhance peoples’ lives.”