A new development agreement has been inked to study the feasibility of a 725-mile transmission line that begins in Wyoming, traverses across Utah and ends in Nevada.
The project by TransWest Express and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Western Area Power Administration proposes to tap wind energy in southeastern Wyoming and convey up to 3,000 megawatts of renewable power to the Marketplace Hub outside of Las Vegas.
Under terms of the agreement, TransWest would kick in up to $25 million as would the Western Area Power Administration to determine the viability of the project as envisioned.
A draft environmental impact study commissioned by the Bureau of Land Management was augmented by nearly two dozen public meetings held in Utah, Wyoming and Nevada. The study is expected to be available for public comment by mid-2012. A final EIS would be done in 2013, followed by decision issued by the BLM in late 2013.
The line, if built, would be the nation’s second largest direct-current transmission line and follow 393 miles of already federally-designated utility corridors. An estimated 41 miles of new utility corridor would have to be established along a route that is not already designated or parallel to existing transmission lines.
The development phase contemplates construction of the 600-kilovolt direct transmission line to deliver power to energy markets in the desert Southwest, where power demands are anticipated to escalate rapidly over the next several decades.
It could be operational as early as 2015 or 2016.
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