Wyoming looks to step forward as an up-and-coming juggernaut in wind power as Millard County, Utah commissioners approved two crucial permits for the proposed 730-mile TransWest Express Transmission Project which crosses into Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada.
The state-spanning transmission line, projected to cost about $3 billion, was thought up by none other than Philip Anschutz, the Denver-based business magnate who largely built his fortune in the oil-drilling business.
The businessman’s private company, the Anschutz Corporation, owns the TWE Project, as well as the Power Company of Wyoming. The power company plans to build a wind farm that will produce power for the TW Project, which can deliver energy from other Wyoming wind generation as well. The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project will be located in southwestern Wyoming and will produce three gigawatts of power.
Over 10 years in the making, the TWE is a transmission project that will connect wind farms in Wyoming with electric grids in Nevada after passing through portions of Colorado and Utah. Once completed, the project could deliver 3,000 megawatts of wind-sourced renewable energy to customers across the Southwest.
The power that’s planned to be transported using the TWE Project will be enough for 1.8 million homes every year. Over 90 miles of the TWE Project’s transmission line will run through Millard County, and the project could garner $477 million in tax receipts in the county over TWE’s entire operating lifespan.
“We anticipate beginning construction next year on this critical energy infrastructure,” said Bill Miller, CEO and President of the Power Company of Wyoming LLC and of TransWest Express LLC.. “The TWE Project will create jobs, open up new markets for Wyoming energy products, strengthen the regional electric grid, and deliver economic benefits to Wyoming and the West for years to come.”
Plans for the ambitious transmission project began way back in 2005.
Due to the rigorous and complex permitting process, the TWE Project has had to overcome several legislative hurdles along the journey. About two-thirds of the project will be constructed on federal property, which requires intensive analysis to understand the environmental effects that the project will have on the land where it’s built.
The federal environmental analysis began in 2008 and didn’t wrap up until 2016. After the analysis was completed, TransWest was granted the necessary easements and licenses that it needed to push ahead.
Wind power and clean energy proponents are celebrating the victory as the next necessary step in decarbonizing America’s grid.
“America’s critical energy infrastructure needs a reboot to efficiently serve the 21st-century economy,” said Amy Farrell, Senior Vice President, Government and Public Affairs, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “Good transmission planning and swift permitting at all levels should help our country quickly advance infrastructure projects that are so clearly in the public interest. Moving new transmission projects forward strengthens our national grid by making it more resilient while also creating good jobs and boosting local tax revenues for years to come.”
Now that Wyoming has signed off, the project should move forward quickly.
In the coming years, the TWE Project will become instrumental in getting renewable energy from where it’s generated in the middle of the country to the densely populated West Coast, where the demand for renewable energy continues to grow as the nation transitions its energy sector to cleaner alternatives.