American families and businesses will soon have access to more affordable, reliable clean energy thanks to a unanimous decision from the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council approving the TransWest Express (TWE) Transmission Project on April 19. The long-distance, high-voltage transmission line will reliably deliver large amounts of energy, including cost-saving wind power, to help power homes and businesses across the Western U.S.
“By approving important transmission infrastructure projects like TWE, Wyoming authorities are further diversifying the state’s economy and unleashing a new wave of local economic investment, including jobs, millions of dollars each year in landowner payments, and millions more in property taxes,” said Amy Farrell, Senior Vice President, Government and Public Affairs, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “This project also means Wyoming will be able to deliver the affordable, reliable, clean energy that customers across the West are increasingly demanding.”
Transmission projects like TWE are essential as the U.S. modernizes its electric grid. The American Society of Civil Engineers rates the country’s grid an unacceptable D+, hardly adequate to accommodate a competitive global economy and today’s modern technology. Many of the country’s transmission lines have outlived their lifespans, and infrastructure constraints currently prevent consumers from accessing the full cost-saving potential of wind and other low-cost energy resources. Fortunately, studies find that connecting low-cost energy sources to the market through well-designed transmission projects provides significant benefits to consumers.
Wyoming’s approval concludes state permitting and continues the strong momentum for the 730-mile TWE Project, a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) and high-voltage alternating current (HVAC) system designed to provide Western energy markets with access to diverse wind resources. About two-thirds of the TWE Project is located on federal land. The required federal environmental analysis was completed between 2008 and 2016, and federal rights-of-way, easements and licenses were issued for the TWE Project in 2017 and 2018.
The Wyoming state permit was granted after the Council found the transmission project complied with all applicable laws and regulations, and it will not pose a threat to the environment or area inhabitants, among other key regulatory criteria. Project developer TransWest Express LLC has additional commercial and regulatory steps ahead, but the remaining local permitting and right-of-way acquisition are nearly complete. Project construction is estimated to begin in 2020.
“America’s critical energy infrastructure needs a reboot to efficiently serve the 21st-century economy,” said Farrell. “Good transmission planning and swift permitting at all levels should help our country quickly advance infrastructure projects that are so clearly in the public interest. Moving new transmission projects forward strengthens our national grid by making it more resilient while also creating good jobs and boosting local tax revenues for years to come.”