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Wyoming Wind Power revs up, but is it too much?

At the Western Conference of Public Service Commissioners annual meeting in Cheyenne last week, Idaho Public Utilities Commission President Paul Kjellander asked why the Energy Vision 2020 project was moving forward when his state has enough electricity for years to come. Idaho is one of the project’s intended recipients. California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Picker questioned the construction of so much wind power in Wyoming — including a planned 3,000-MW project — and said there isn’t a clear transmission path to California.

PacifiCorp Joins Race for more Wind Power with 1,150-MW Project

HANNA, Wyo. — PacifiCorp subsidiary Rocky Mountain Power broke ground Wednesday on 1,150 MW of new wind power on the high plains of southeastern Wyoming near its existing Seven Mile Hill wind farm.

The company’s Energy Vision 2020 project is the latest in a series of mega-sized wind farms slated for the gustiest parts of the nation in Wyoming and New Mexico. The 99-MW Seven Mile Hill and other wind farms occupy a part of Wyoming where mountain chains end, allowing 70-mph winds to rush through regularly.

“These are gargantuan projects,” RMP CEO Gary Hoogeveen said of his company’s latest endeavors.

Some of the projects in Wyoming and New Mexico are intended to provide as much wind power as nuclear plants. Questions remain, however, about whether the electricity is needed and how it will get to densely populated areas of the West, particularly California.

In its Energy Vision effort, PacifiCorp/RMP plans to build three new wind farms capable of producing 350 to 450 MW each, along with a 140-mile high-voltage line to link the new turbines to its transmission system. It’s also “repowering” existing turbines at Seven Mile Hill and nearby... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

PacifiCorp Joins Race for more Wind Power with 1,150-MW Project

HANNA, Wyo. — PacifiCorp subsidiary Rocky Mountain Power broke ground Wednesday on 1,150 MW of new wind power on the high plains of southeastern Wyoming near its existing Seven Mile Hill wind farm.

The company’s Energy Vision 2020 project is the latest in a series of mega-sized wind farms slated for the gustiest parts of the nation in Wyoming and New Mexico. The 99-MW Seven Mile Hill and other wind farms occupy a part of Wyoming where mountain chains end, allowing 70-mph winds to rush through regularly.

“These are gargantuan projects,” RMP CEO Gary Hoogeveen said of his company’s latest endeavors.

Some of the projects in Wyoming and New Mexico are intended to provide as much wind power as nuclear plants. Questions remain, however, about whether the electricity is needed and how it will get to densely populated areas of the West, particularly California.

In its Energy Vision effort, PacifiCorp/RMP plans to build three new wind farms capable of producing 350 to 450 MW each, along with a 140-mile high-voltage line to link the new turbines to its transmission system. It’s also “repowering” existing turbines at Seven Mile Hill and nearby projects with longer blades and new generating units atop the nearly 300-foot towers.

At the Western Conference of Public Service Commissioners annual meeting in Cheyenne last week, Idaho Public Utilities Commission President Paul Kjellander asked why the Energy Vision 2020 project was moving forward when his state has enough electricity for years to come. Idaho is one of the project’s intended recipients.

California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Picker questioned the construction of so much wind power in Wyoming — including a planned 3,000-MW project — and said there isn’t a clear transmission path to California.

“I can see maybe 1,000 MW, but not 3,000,” Picker said in an interview at the conference.

Many see California, with its 40 million residents, as a prime market for wind power from less populated Western states after it passed a 100% clean-energy mandate last year in Senate Bill 100. (See Calif. Gov. Signs Clean Energy Act Before Climate Summit.) Wyoming has about 578,000 residents with wide-open ranges and powerful winds.

PacifiCorp, based in Portland, Ore., is part of CAISO’s Western Energy Imbalance Market, which allows real-time trading across state lines.

RMP Vice President Todd Jensen, who oversees transmission planning, said the electricity from the Energy Vision project is intended only for the company’s service territory, which contains about 1.1 million customers in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.

The utility has determined that getting its wind power to California would require tying into substations in Utah and Nevada and building hundreds of miles of new transmission lines, Jensen said. “There’s not really the bandwidth or capacity to get it to California.”

Western Wind Rush

Some are aiming to change that.

The TransWest Express Transmission Project is intended to provide 20,000 GWh/year of clean energy generated in Wyoming to the Desert Southwest, including Southern California, according to the Western Area Power Administration. The federal power marketing administration is supporting the project through its Transmission Infrastructure Program.

​The TransWest line would “run about 728 miles from south-central Wyoming, crossing Colorado and Utah, to the Marketplace Hub about 25 miles south of Las Vegas, Nev.,” WAPA said. “When completed, this project would have the capacity to transmit about 3,000 MW of electricity generated primarily from renewable resources at planned facilities in Wyoming.”

The project is still in the permitting phase.

TransWest Express is a subsidiary of The Anschutz Corp., whose owner, conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz,​ built his $11 billion (2019 net worth) fortune in oil, railroads, telecommunications, real estate and entertainment, Forbes says. Anschutz is planning to build the world’s biggest wind farm on 300,000 acres he owns in Wyoming, the business publication says.

Anschutz’s Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project near Rawlins in south-central Wyoming would consist of 1,000 turbines generating up to 3,000 MW — with much of the energy intended to be sent to California over the TransWest Express.

The massive wind projects have been undergoing environmental review, permitting and right-of-way acquisition since 2006. Completion is slated for 2026, according to Power Company of Wyoming, another wholly owned Anschutz subsidiary.

In New Mexico, Pattern Development’s Corona Wind Project is moving forward. Pattern’s plans call for construction of up to 950 wind turbines with the potential to produce 2,200 MW of electricity. That’s about the same capacity as Pacific Gas and Electric’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, the last in California, which is scheduled to retire by 2025.

A transmission pathway remains uncertain. (See Tx Path Uncertain for Massive New Mexico Wind Farm.)

In September 2018, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission declined to let the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project go ahead, citing unresolved concerns, especially that the developers had “failed to sufficiently define the location of the transmission line route for which it seeks approval.”

The commission denied the project without prejudice so that SunZia’s developer, SouthWestern Power Group, could firm up its plan and resubmit it.

SunZia’s $2 billion transmission project would consist of two bidirectional 500-kV lines with a total rating of 3,000 MW. Its proposed 520-mile path from central New Mexico south across the Rio Grande and the Sonoran Desert in Arizona has met with resistance from federal agencies, the military, environmentalists, community groups and ranchers since it was first proposed in 2008.

Some of those concerns have been resolved, particularly with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Defense Department, whose land the lines would cross or abut, but problems with some private landowners persist.

SunZia’s fate is linked with the Corona project, which would be the line’s anchor tenant. The transmission line’s developer says it will try again.

“SouthWestern Power Group is planning to reapply for location approval with the PRC during 2019, providing the additional information cited in the PRC decision,” the company said in its most recent update.


Source: https://rtoinsider.com/wyom...

JUN 10 2019
https://www.windaction.org/posts/51016-wyoming-wind-power-revs-up-but-is-it-too-much
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