Solar farms sprout in southwest Wyoming

JACKSON — A new type of industrial activity is rising from the sagebrush and pastureland in western Wyoming: utility- scale solar farms.

Three such developments have already been constructed or will soon be built in the Green and Bear river basins. The introduction of photovoltaic renewable energy technology figures to help replenish county coffers and reduce reliance on flagging fossil- fuel industries, but it’s also causing worries about viewscapes, sage grouse and pronghorn.

The lone existing large solar farm, dubbed Sweetwater Solar, located between Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge and Interstate 80, made headlines in December, when about 1,000 pronghorn were bottlenecked and funneled toward a highway by the new 1-square-mile expanse of solar panels circled by a fence.