November 13, 2013

DOI approves wind power transmission line in West

The amount of wind power being generated around the United States, specifically in western states, is increasing so rapidly that utilities need to build new infrastructure to reach more customers.

The amount of wind power being generated around the United States, specifically in western states, is increasing so rapidly that utilities need to build new infrastructure to reach more customers.

The U.S. Department of Interior recently gave the green light on the majority of a new wind power transmission line that will serve the growing capacity of wind energy generated at wind farms in the West.

The DOI approved the 990-mile, high-voltage Gateway West Transmission Line Project power line that will provide as much as 1.5 gigawatts of capacity to southern Wyoming and southern Idaho. The project is specifically targeting the abundant amount of wind energy resources being generated in the region, the DOI said.

“The line will strengthen the Western grid, bringing a diversified portfolio of renewable and conventional energy to meet the region's projected growth in electricity demand,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement.

Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power are the two utility companies behind the project, North American Wind reported. The line will begin in Glenrock, Wyo., and end at the Hemingway substation located 20 miles southwest of Boise near Melba, Idaho.

The wind power transmission line is among seven priority projects led by the Obama Administration's Rapid Response Team for Transmission. The team's aim is to cut down on the time it takes for transmission infrastructure projects to receive governmental approval.

The Gateway West power line is also the first major U.S. transmission project the DOI has given its final approval on in decades, Sustainable Business reported.

Hurdles ahead

About half of the transmission line route travels on federal public land, according to the source. However, there are still two final segments of the 10-segment project that need to be finalized as the line travels through some private land. The project has been in the works for seven years as the route has been finalized. Eight segments - the parts of the line that travel on federal land - are expected to be completed between 2016 and 2021.

Once completed, the Gateway West line will be part of a larger transmission project - one that carries 4.5 GW of energy across 2,000 miles through Utah, Idaho and Wyoming, Sustainable Business reported.

With wind power production rapidly expanding in the United States, wind farm owners will want to find smart maintenance solutions when unplanned outages or other disruptions in operations occur. Broadwind Energy provides wind turbine gearbox repair services that enable wind farm owners to maximize profitability by offering in-field engineered solutions, getting operations back up to speed quickly and minimizing losses.