LARAMIE — Officials have broken ground on the 416-mile Gateway South transmission line project in rural Carbon County with promises that it will reinforce Wyoming’s legacy as one of the nation’s leading energy producers.
Rocky Mountain Power reports the project, which is part of the company’s Energy Gateway transmission expansion initiative, will extend from the Aeolus Substation near Medicine Bow to the Clover Substation near Mona, Utah.
The new line, coupled with the completion of the Gateway West D.1 segment, “supports Wyoming’s energy policy by increasing the reliability of the Wyoming transmission network,” according to the company.
Once completed, the projects will “enable the interconnection of the additional generation resources customers will need in the coming years.”
“This is a PacifiCorp investment of nearly $2.5 billion all told for Gateway South and other adjoining transmission projects,” said Gary Hoogeveen, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Power during a Monday groundbreaking ceremony. “It will help the U.S. open a new chapter in expanding and modernizing the regional energy network.”
Hoogeveen called the transmission line a “generational infrastructure reboot” of a scale and size that has not been seen since a wide scale investment in rural electrification a century ago.
Gov. Mark Gordon said Wyoming’s abundant natural resources of wind and solar, along with potential for advanced nuclear power, provide distributable, dependable electricity that is necessary in powering the nation.
He also said that solutions to climate issues are going to come out of Wyoming.
“It is current that these two issues come together right here in Wyoming,” Gordon said. “It is very exciting to see this transmission line that will be providing so much energy to the rest of the nation.
“Wyoming generates a lot of electricity with about 80% for out-of-state use, the governor added. “Those electrons are going to come from a variety of sources. People can be assured that whatever those electrons are, they are going to be focused on not only making sure homes are cool or warm as needed, and that lights stay on, but that we are focused on climate solutions.”
Wyoming is the first state in the nation to discuss creating a carbon-negative future, Gordon said.
In late May, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management issued the final approval for the 416- mile transmission line, which also will pass through Colorado. Transmission service could begin in late 2024.
Since 2017, when PacifiCorp announced its $3.1 billion Energy Vision 2020 program, the company has been moving away from using coal-produced power, instead focusing on electricity generated by wind and other sources, all connected by transmission lines like the planned Gateway project.
“This transmission addition will allow the interconnectedness of new (power) generation … (like) new nuclear, and we are also excited about new opportunities in carbon capture,” Hoogeveen said. “We think this transmission line and others like it will help enable those investments in what we see as our diverse energy portfolio.”
The transmission line will create 1,300 construction jobs, according to Rocky Mountain Power, and will be one of a network of transmission lines spanning the Mountain States.
“This is all about connecting the West,” said Stefan Bird, president and CEO at Pacific Power. “Our grid touches 10 states, and we are very uniquely positioned to provide that solution that everyone is looking for today.
“How are we going to make this transition possible? That is done through connecting the abundant resources the West has to offer.”