The nation’s largest wind farm in Wyoming would connect to one of the largest energy storage facilities in Utah to power Los Angeles, in a proposal announced Tuesday by four companies, including Duke Energy. The project’s scale is more akin to a nuclear plant.
The $8 billion proposal calls for Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy to build a 2,100 megawatt wind farm—about twice the size of a typical nuclear plant—40 miles north of Cheyenne, Wyoming.
From there, a 500-mile power line constructed by the joint venture Duke-American Transmission would carry the energy to Utah, about 130 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. Pathfinder, renewable Magnum Energy, and engineering firm Dresser-Rand will dig out a large salt formation to create an underground compressed air storage facility, only the second of its kind in the U.S. and ten times larger than the only current facility in Alabama.
“We should be able to take Wyoming wind, which is the strongest terrestrial wind in the United States,” Pathfinder managing partner Jeff Meyer said on a conference call. “Combine it with a very large storage project to deliver very low-cost renewables to the California market, and possibly other markets in the west.”
The proposal comes in response to a request by the Southern California Power Authority, which is seeking to bolster both its renewable energy and storage capacity to meet aggressive state requirements.
The companies have significant hurdles to clear for the project to become reality in 2023. First, the Authority would have to accept the project—the companies expect a decision within 18 months. Then, each part of the project would need regulatory approval from federal and state agencies.