JACKSON, Wyo. — The company planning a $3.5 billion transmission line between Wyoming and Nevada expects to choose a preferred route next month.
A representative of Duke Energy American Transmission Co., owner of the Zephyr Transmission Project, told the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority board Monday in Jackson that his company will make an announcement in late March.
For about a year, Duke has been considering five or six options for the 900-mile line capable of transporting 3,000 megawatts of wind power. The company has vetted each of the options with the cooperation of several state and federal agencies and will identify a favorite soon, according to company Vice President Chris Jones.
“Over the last year, we’ve come quite a way in restarting the development and putting the project back on its feet,” Jones told a room full of lobbyists, government officials and wind and construction company executives.
Each of the alternatives under consideration would originate at a converter station near Chugwater and end at another station in southern Nevada’s El Dorado Valley. Several of the options under study follow Interstate 80 through Wyoming for a significant distance, with at least one crossing into Idaho. Others branch south near Rock Springs and Rawlins and at least one juts straight south from Chugwater.
The project is one of several transmission lines proposed by multiple companies, with the end goal of selling Wyoming wind power to California and other customers in the area hungry for renewable energy. The Cowboy State is home to what many consider to be some of the best wind in the country, but it doesn’t have the demand to put the resource to use.
The company, a joint venture of Duke Energy and American Transmission, purchased the project in 2011. Jones said Zephyr’s original owner, TransCanada, had announced a preferred route which led straight west to Idaho Falls and then south to Nevada. Duke hadn’t yet announced a preferred route.
The vast majority of wind power to be carried by the line — about 2,000 megawatts — would be purchased from a proposed Pathfinder Wind Energy project near Chugwater. DATC expects to meet with affected county and state governments to go over their proposal before filing for federal approval later this year.
The company hopes to begin construction on the line sometime in 2016 and begin operations by 2020.