Four-Company Plan Features Wyoming Wind Turbines and Utah Power Facility Run on Air
Four energy companies are teaming up on an $8-billion effort to ship electric power produced in Wyoming all the way to Southern California via transmission lines, with the help of a novel energy-storage and generation system to be built in Utah.
The project comes as California pushes utilities to develop significant volumes stored energy sources to smooth supply flows when there are fluctuations in output from solar-powered generation and wind turbines.
The four companies—Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy, Magnum Energy, Dresser-Rand Group Inc. DRC +0.34% and Duke-American Transmission—intend to submit a formal plan by early 2015 to the Southern California Public Power Authority, which is seeking proposals for renewable energy and energy storage projects.
Under the plan proposed on Tuesday, Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy would build and operate a $4 billion wind farm near Chugwater, Wyo., 40 miles north of Cheyenne. It would generate up to 2,100 megawatts of electricity, the bulk of which would be destined for California's Los Angeles basin.
Pathfinder, Magnum Energy and Dresser-Rand would also build a $1.5-billion compressed air storage system at a site near Delta, Utah, about 130 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. The facility would also house power generation units run off the compressed air. It would have a capacity of 1,200 megawatts and would be filled with air during times when demand for electricity is low.
Meanwhile, Duke-American Transmission would build a $2.6-billion transmission line to connect the Wyoming wind farm with the Utah storage facility, from where the electric power would eventually link up with an existing transmission line carrying electricity from Utah to California.
The partners said all the operating pieces would probably not be in place until 2023, and the project is contingent on regulatory approvals and securing contracts with utilities to buy the electricity.
Although parts of the project, including the wind farm, were already on the drawing board, creating a complete integrated package is new.
Jim Heid, senior vice president of Houston-based Dresser-Rand, which agreed this week to be acquired by Siemens AG SIE.XE -0.07% for $6.4 billion, said putting all the pieces together creates "a better mousetrap."
The companies wouldn't say what they intend to charge for the electricity they produce from the project, but they said the price will be attractive to users because the wind turbines are expected to be some of the most productive in the U.S.
California winds typically die down in the late afternoon, slowing the state's wind turbines when electricity is most needed. On the other hand, winds in Wyoming tend to pick up later in the day, allowing that state to produce more electricity from its turbines. Shifting power from Wyoming to California at the appropriate time would make for a smoother flow of electricity without disrupting the electricity grid.