- The Western Area Power Administration approved interconnection requests for ConnectGen’s 504-MW Rail Tie wind project in Southeast Wyoming, the Houston-based renewable energy company said Tuesday.
- In its environmental review of the roughly $500 million project, WAPA found that it would have “significant” visual effects, including on the Ames Monument National Historic Landmark, as well as potentially killing eagles. However, ConnectGen designed its project with all “practicable means” to avoid or reduce environmental harm, WAPA said.
- "Connecting more renewable energy projects to the grid is a critical step in modernizing America's energy infrastructure and meeting our nation's growing energy needs," WAPA Administrator and CEO Tracey LeBeau said in a statement.
ConnectGen’s project, which sparked local opposition, will interconnect with the 345-kV Ault-Craig transmission line owned by WAPA, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and Platte River Power Authority, according to a “record of decision” published Tuesday in the Federal Register.
The project is set to be built in two stages on about 26,000 acres of private and state land, WAPA said in the notice. ConnectGen, a 547 Energy subsidiary, aims to bring the first 252-MW stage online by the end of 2023, with the second stage following a year later.
ConnectGen won’t start building the project until it finds a customer for its output, according to the company.
ConnectGen owns 139 MW in solar operations and a development pipeline of more than 20,000 MW of wind, solar and energy storage projects, according to the company.
Wyoming, a state known for its coal production, has nearly 3,200 MW of wind capacity and about 3,500 MW under construction, according to the Department of Energy’s WINDExchange. Its wind resources in the area where the Rail Tie project is set to be built are rated as “excellent,” “outstanding” and “superb.”
The state lacks transmission capacity to export its potential wind power, but that could change soon with the TransWest Express project and PacifiCorp’s Energy Gateway projects advancing through the development process.
The TransWest developer has acquired all needed permissions to cross private land, Kara Choquette, Power Company of Wyoming and TransWest director of communications and government relations, said in an email Wednesday. PCW is building a 3,000 MW wind farm in Wyoming.
TransWest is on track to receiving a “notice to proceed” from the Bureau of Land Management next year, Choquette said.