Duke Energy transmission project to deliver wind energy to California

Duke-American Transmission Co. has acquired the Zephyr Power Transmission Project and will continue the design and development of the proposed 950-mile transmission line that would deliver wind power generated in eastern Wyoming to California and the southwestern U.S.

DATC, a joint venture of Duke Energy and American Transmission Co., acquired the Zephyr Power Transmission Project from a unit of Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy LLC. Pathfinder is developing a wind farm project on more than 100,000 acres near Chugwater, Wyo., and has committed to use at least 2,100 MW of the Zephyr project’s 3,000-MW capacity.

The Zephyr project would originate in Chugwater and terminate in the Eldorado Valley just south of Las Vegas, Nev. The 500-kV high-voltage direct current project, estimated at about $3.5 billion, will include an AC/DC converter station at each terminus.

California may be the largest market for renewable power in the country with a renewable energy portfolio standard of 33 percent. DATC’s Zephyr project creates a highly efficient and strategic connection between the wind-rich areas of Wyoming and electricity load centers in California and the southwestern U.S.

While wind turbines generation and transmission development are being pursued separately, Pathfinder and DATC have agreed to work together to increase the viability of the integrated projects.

In 2012, DATC will continue its studies, begin environmental analysis, and design routing and siting before seeking regulatory approvals. If approved, the transmission line would be in service in 2020.

Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy, LLC (Pathfinder), headquartered near Alcova, Wyoming, owns and operates Wyoming’s historic Pathfinder Ranch. Pathfinder is advancing the development of new wind generation assets and expanded power transmission capacity to deliver renewable wind energy to markets in the southwest.

Pathfinder and its partnering ranchers are leaders in enhancing wildlife habitat while preserving America’s ranching heritage and meeting the nation’s desire for competitively priced green energy. Its wind energy vision is based on an appreciation for Wyoming’s rural economies, communities, wildlife, scenic viewsheds and cultural resources. Sammons Power Development, Inc., a subsidiary of Dallas-based Sammons Enterprises, Inc. with assets approaching $40 billion, is the lead partner in Pathfinder. General Electric Company will provide the wind generation equipment for the Pathfinder wind farms.