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Transmission Line Will Deliver Wind Power To Much Of The West

The western U.S. is a land of endless vistas and distant cities, meaning transmission lines must often stretch over hundreds of miles of empty space. Building these lines will be a major priority in the coming years to meet the current administration’s goal of achieving a carbon-free electric grid by 2035.

One such line, the TransWest Express (TWE), was recently given a notice to proceed with construction by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). As the BLM recently noted, the TransWest Express is a 732-mile high-voltage transmission line that will run from south-central Wyoming through northwestern Colorado and central Utah before ending in southern Nevada.

If you want to know how far 732 miles is, it’s only about 50 miles shorter than the distance between New York City and Chicago

Photo Courtesy TransWest Express

The TWE project is no ordinary power line, either. It will carry electricity generated by the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project, which the BLM calls the “largest onshore wind generation project in North America.”

According to the Power Company of Wyoming, the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project — located in Carbon County, WY — is a 600-turbine wind farm that can generate more than 3,000 megawatts of electricity. It is designed to “ensure a reliable, competitively priced supply of renewable electricity that’s unmatched in the West.” 

Meanwhile, the TWE continues the bureau’s move to increase the number of high-voltage, multi-state transmission lines in the West.

In May 2022, the agency issued a notice to proceed on the 416-mile Energy Gateway South Transmission Line project, which will “permit at least 25 gigawatts of solar, wind, and geothermal production on public lands by 2025.”

“Public lands continue to play a vital role in advancing President Biden’s goal of achieving a net-zero economy by 2050,” said Tracy Stone-Manning, BLM director. “This large-scale transmission line will put people to work across our public lands and will help deliver clean, renewable energy. Our responsible use of public lands today can help ensure a clean energy future for us all.”

The BLM estimates that more than 1,000 jobs will be created during the construction of the TransWest Express project. The first stage is expected to be completed in 2027.

Photo Courtesy TransWest Express 

TransWest Express LLC said the line will be the Western power grid’s “largest transmission addition in decades.” About two-thirds of the TWE is located on federal land.

The notice to proceed is the final step of a BLM authorization process that began in 2008, part of which focused on the project’s environmental impact.

Utility Dive reported that the power from the TransWest project will be delivered to California and the Southwest. It includes a 3,000-megawatt segment between Wyoming and Utah, along with two 1,500-MW segments from Utah to southern Nevada.

The TWE could help California with its target to use only clean energy by 2045. The state would need to “retire fossil fuel sources like natural gas and coal plants while simultaneously accounting for increased power demand from sources like electric vehicles” to meet that goal, Grist reported.

Photo Courtesy TransWest Express 

A 2021 report from the California Energy Commission estimated that the state will need to “roughly triple its current electricity grid capacity” to reach the 2045 target. But the impact on California is just part of the reason the TransWest project is special, those involved with the project say.“It’s not just about sending Wyoming wind to California solar, but how do you blend all these sources together,” Kara Choquette, communications director at TransWest Express, told Grist. “The physical infrastructure to connect diverse renewable resources will be there.”


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