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Wyoming Wind to Light Up the Southwest

By Andrew Moore

TransWest Express, LLC is nearing construction on the $3 billion TransWest Express Transmission Project, which would allow major southwestern cities to exploit Wyoming wind.  TrasWest, a wholly owned subsidiary of Anschultz Corp., plans to run 725 miles of high-voltage line from south-central Wyoming through Colorado and Utah into southern Nevada.

After its completion in 2015, the new farm looks to supply such cities as Las Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, and Phoenix with 3,000 megawatts of energy.  The projected wind energy output represents a significant boost in total wind energy generated in the U.S.—the largest currently operating wind farm produces a mere 781.5 megawatts.
This January, the Bureau of Land Management and Western Area Power Administrations started work on an environmental impact statement for the TransWest Project.  The agency review is the last anticipated legal hurdle before the company begins initial construction scheduled for 2013.  Given the US Department of Energy’s (“DOE”) recent support for wind energy, the administrative impact statement is not expected to create any obstacles to TransWest’s current timetable.

The south-central Wyoming project is a brilliant demonstration of the current expansion of wind energy in the US.  Growth within the industry has been virtually exponential over the past decade—since 1999, U.S. wind energy capacity has grown more than 1500%.  With analysts forecasting continued strong growth in capacity, wind energy is poised to become a major player in the U.S. energy market.

This impressive growth further illuminates the fact that, until recently, wind energy was not considered a viable energy option (wind energy currently produces only two percent of the electricity generated in the U.S.).  In 2008, the U.S. DOE released a report on the feasibility of using wind energy to generate 20% of the nation’s electricity demand by 2030.  The report, entitled “20% Wind Energy by 2030,” examined the costs and benefits of significant wind energy growth over the next 20 years.  The DOE reported that the 20% Scenario was both environmentally and economically feasible: the savings from reduced reliance on other energy sources would far exceed incremental costs of investing in the 20% Scenario.

The DOE conclusions have been subsequently bolstered by recent developments in the wind energy equipment by multinational engineering companies such as GE, which continue to reduce the cost of harnessing renewable sources of energy.  As the U.S. enters a new decade, more and more wind energy companies like TransWest will look toward establishing a sustainable market share in the sustainable energy industry.

Andrew Moore has a BS in Finance and is currently pursuing a JD. His interests include finding responsible success through creative, sustainable profit alignment.

University Sturm College of Law

Welcome to the University of Denver Sturm College of Law/Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute Blog, a special section of triplepundit.com! Here, University of Denver Sturm College of Law students will report on emerging, novel and contested land use and development issues from a sustainability perspective. We believe the development of the American West, and indeed the entire planet, necessitates a closer and more responsible look at not only how we use natural resources but how we build our communities and economies. We invite you to comment and engage with us over issues of interest to you. And we invite you to suggest topics for us to research and report on from our unique perspective as law students. But most of all, we invite you to take these ideas and share them with your friends and colleagues so we can all be involved in a more informed and forward-thinking discussion about our future.

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