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Feds greenlight major transmission line that will deliver Wyoming wind power to the Southwest

 Transmission lines connect electricity resources across long distances.
Michael Kappel
Flickr Creative Commons
Transmission lines connect electricity resources across long distances.

The Biden administration has approved a major high-voltage power line designed to deliver renewable energy from the Mountain West to population centers in the Southwest.

The Bureau of Land Management on April 11 issued a notice to proceed on the 732-mile TransWest Express Transmission Line, which will begin in southern Wyoming and run through northwest Colorado and Utah before connecting to a substation near Las Vegas.

The transmission line, which will be built over the next few years, will link the 3,000-megawatt Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project – on track to be the largest wind farm in the country – to customers beyond Wyoming’s borders. TransWest spokesperson Kara Choquette said the project will help the state’s economy.

“There's a tremendous ability to generate renewable resources in Wyoming, but there's no local market for that power,” she said. “Just like a pipeline, a new transmission line helps connect Wyoming to new markets.”

About two thirds of the power line will be on federal land, and the BLM's approval was a major hurdle as TransWest prepares for the construction phase.

Once connected to the grid, Choquette said, Wyoming’s wind power will help diversify the Southwest's electricity supply.

 A rough map of the TransWest Express Transmission Line.
Courtesy of TransWest Express
A rough map of the TransWest Express Transmission Line.

“Think about pairing Wyoming wind with, for example, California solar, with Utah solar,” she said. “You're able to blend and bring all of these resources together into the grid, which makes it more cost effective, more reliable and more resilient.”

Federal officials also recently approved the approximately 1,000-mile Gateway West transmission project, which will run from near Glenrock, Wyo., to southwest Idaho. The BLM said projects like these are critical for the country’s transition to a clean energy future.

“Public lands continue to play a vital role in advancing President Biden’s goal of achieving a net-zero economy by 2050,” said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning in a statement about TransWest. “This large-scale transmission line will put people to work across our public lands and will help deliver clean, renewable energy.”

TransWest hopes to break ground on the transmission line by the end of the year.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2023 Wyoming Public Radio. To see more, visit Wyoming Public Radio.

Will Walkey

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