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Wyoming wind helps California

NREL study finds Golden State could save up to $1bn a year

Wyoming wind helps California image

A US economic analysis finds California could save up to $1bn in annual generation costs if a new direct current transmission line is built to connect the Golden State's grid to Wyoming’s high-capacity wind energy resources.

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory study, California-Wyoming Grid Integration Study: Phase 1 Economic Analysis, the benefits of such a transmission project outweigh the costs by 1.6 to 3.6 times. The range depends on assumptions about the future costs of different renewable energy technologies.

NREL looked at possible choices, including 12,000 gigawatt hours of Wyoming wind, for meeting the last increment of California’s renewables portfolio standard requirement—33% of retail sales by 2020.

By sourcing a portion of Wyoming wind, the study notes that annual generator cost savings range from around $500m to $1bn.

“Wyoming has some of the best onshore wind in the United States,” said Loyd Drain, executive director of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, which sponsored the analysis.

“This study quantifies the benefit of connecting the best wind in the West to the state with the largest demand for renewables in the West, thus the California-Wyoming connection,” said Drain.

The 725-mile 3000MW TransWest Express transmission project includes a 600kV high-voltage direct-current line from south central Wyoming to southern Nevada’s Eldorado Valley, with interconnection into the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) balancing authority.

The Bureau of Land Management and Western Area Power Administration, serving as joint lead agencies, are expected to release their final environmental impact statement for the project later in 2014.

Image: Importing Wyoming wind energy could save up to $1bn a year (Edison)

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