At his monthly news conference today, Governor Matt Mead reported progress on some key projects. He noted that the Unified Network will expand access to broadband internet across the state. It is under construction and testing will start soon.
"I wanted to improve broadband capacity around the state and we formed a great public-private partnership to do that. The Unified Network will provide a 100 gigabit backbone, which will allow us to get to the next standard in broadband," Governor Mead said. "This also creates exciting opportunities for the private sector."
Governor Mead met with US Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz. Secretary Moniz is attending an energy summit in Wyoming. Governor Mead spoke about the leading role Wyoming takes in providing energy to the country and as an environmental steward. The Integrated Test Center, which would be located at a Wyoming coal-fired power plant and test different commercial uses for carbon was a topic of discussion.
"Two companies that own coal-fired power plants here, Black Hills Power and Basin Electric, have expressed preliminary interest in participating," Governor Mead said. "The idea is to invite scientists to help develop commercial uses for carbon and receive an innovation prize for successful work."
Governor Mead announced that work on plugging and reclaiming orphaned natural gas wells is going well. His goal of dealing with 300 wells per year is on track and there is potential to take care of more than 400 wells in 2014.
"I wanted to address idle and orphaned wells in a big way. In recent years we had slowed down on efforts to plug and reclaim these wells so I set an aggressive but realistic goal of 300 wells per year. We are well ahead of schedule on that effort," Governor Mead said.
Governor Mead said this aggressive approach will continue in coming years. The funding for plugging and reclaiming wells comes from the conservation tax, which is paid by oil and gas companies.