$8B proposal aims to ship Wyo. power to L.A.

Source: By Blood/Gruver, AP/Albany Times Union • Posted: Thursday, September 25, 2014

A four-company alliance is pitching what it calls wind energy’s “holy grail,” but the plan to power an estimated 1.2 million homes in Southern California with Wyoming wind has a long way to go.

Coinciding with President Obama’s speech at the U.N. summit urging world action on climate change, Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy’s Jeff Meyer called an $8 billion plan to connect what would be Wyoming’s second-largest wind farm to California homes via a 525-mile transmission line “a landmark of the clean energy revolution.”

“This project would be the 21st century’s Hoover Dam,” said Meyer in a statement. Pathfinder, Magnum Energy, Dresser-Rand and Duke-American Transmission Co. plan to submit a project blueprint to the Southern California Public Power Authority by early 2015.

The plan hinges on a $1.5 billion energy storage site, similar to an Alabama system that has operated since the early 1990s, 130 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. A coal-powered plant is already sending electricity to Los Angeles County from the rural area near Delta, Utah.

When demand for power is low, excess electricity could be injected into high-pressure air in four caverns, each with a volume of 41 million cubic feet. The air, combined with a small amount of natural gas, would then be used to power eight electricity-producing generators during peak demand hours.

But in addition to regulatory hurdles that could change in the time it takes to complete the project, any plan must beat out hundreds of other proposals aimed at fulfilling the Los Angeles region’s state requirement to increase its amount of renewable energy.

Travis Miller, an analyst for investment research giant Morningstar, said “any infrastructure project that looks out nine, 10 years has a lot of uncertainties” (Blood/Gruver, AP/Albany Times Union, Sept. 24). — DTB