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GREEN RIVER – Wyoming’s world-class wind has spawned numerous wind energy projects in southwest Wyoming over the past few years.
Those projects include the massive, 1,000-turbine Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind projects proposed for Carbon County, and the 236-turbine White Mountain wind energy project near Rock Springs.
A new transmission line proposed for the region aims to help move some of that newly created wind-generated power to more densely populated markets in the Southwest.
The Bureau of Land Management and the Western Area Power Administration are beginning work on an environmental impact statement for the proposed $3 billion TransWest Express 600-kilovolt project, BLM spokeswoman Beverly Gorny said Tuesday.
The project – proposed by TransWest Express, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Anschultz Corp. – would cross portions of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Nevada.
The approximately 725-mile-long, high-voltage line would originate near Rawlins in Carbon County.
The line would move power through southeastern Sweetwater County into Colorado and down to substations located in southern Nevada near Las Vegas, according to plans.
Company officials said the transmission line, when completed in late 2015, would provide 3,000 megawatts of energy.
TransWest officials said that amount is roughly equivalent to three-fourths of the electricity used in Los Angeles alone.
The wind-generated electricity would be sold to emerging renewable energy markets in the Southwest, including Arizona, California, Utah and Nevada.
The Western Area Power Administration is a power-marketing agency within the U.S. Department of Energy and is proposing to jointly own the project with TransWest LLC.
More than half of the best-quality wind resources in the continental United States are in Wyoming, according to National Renewable Energy Laboratory data.
The state has been aggressively pursuing wind energy generation over the past few years.
Leaders in Wyoming’s growing energy industry want to export more electrical generation out of the state, but that means more power transmission lines must be built.
Developers hope to connect Wyoming’s wind-generated power to distant markets that pay higher prices for commodities such as the Southwest.
Energy Department officials estimate that even with ongoing energy conservation efforts, the demand for electricity in the desert Southwest is expected to increase about 2 percent a year over the next decade.
The TransWest Express transmission line would be constructed of 100- to 180-foot tall, steel-lattice pole towers, according to plans.
The project would also include two AC/DC converter stations, a fiber optic network communications system and two ground electrode facilities.
Officials said upwards of 1,000 total workers could be employed during the estimated two years of construction.
Gorny said the two agencies expect to host 23 open house meetings at various locations in the four affected states to kickoff work on the EIS. She said the agencies will accept public comments through April 4.
Company officials expect a draft EIS to be released in 2012 and a final record of decision in 2013, according to the TransWest Express website.
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