Wyoming invented the snow fence. They help keep drifting snow from covering vital roadways in the winter months.

But they don't do a whole lot in the summer, excepts make tourists wonder what those miles of strange-looking fencing are for.

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That's when someone got the idea for a dual-use fence. If the fences were collecting sunlight in the summer then maybe we could get some power out of them.

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The gentleman who came up with the idea got a grant from the federal government. He is now working with WYDOT.

Look for test fencing along I-80 between Laramie and Cheyenne.

At first, these solar fences might just produce enough power to run local equipment. The hope is, if it works, some power might actually get dumped into the grid.

As with all new ideas a lot has to be tested and explored before it is known if the project has more benefits than flaws.

In 1971, the Wyoming DOT began constructing snow fences along Interstate 80. Workers installed 11.4 mi of snow fences to protect the 27 sites where drifting snow had buried the highway the year before. Winter came and the new invention showed just how well they worked.

Since then WYDOT along with neighboring states have worked on many variations of snow fences to see how to make them more cost-effective and efficient.

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Over the past few years, they have even experimented with "living snow fences"  where they plant bushes and trees to see if they can create something that doesn't need any maintenance, and will add trees to the state. They also make rather good windbreaks when there isn't any snow.

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