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Thanks to Wind Developers, Wyoming-Colorado Intertie 70% Subscribed

Aug 29 2008 - Wind Energy Weekly

Wind developers led the way in securing capacity on the Wyoming-Colorado Intertie (WCI) Project in an open-season auction that sponsors deemed a success, saying the project will continue to move forward.

The open season for capacity on the transmission line, which will connect the Front Range of Colorado with the wind-rich high plains of eastern Wyoming, resulted in 585 MW of capacity purchase commitments. Those commitments came from GreenHunter Wind Company, LLC, and Duke Energy Ohio, Inc., two wind developers with wind farms under development near Chugwater, Wyo. Project sponsors had offered up to 850 MW of transmission capacity in a public auction.

The significance of a major transmission line being supported exclusively by wind thus far was immediately noted by members of the wind energy industry. “The successful open-season auction by the Wyoming-Colorado Intertie Project is significant proof of wind power’s growing status as a mainstream source of electricity in the western United States,” AWEA Policy Director Rob Gramlich said in a statement. “With wind developers subscribing for nearly 70% of the transmission offered, this announcement is proof that transmission can be financed based largely on wind. This effort to proactively plan transmission to access low-cost wind resources with federal and state government cooperation is a model for other areas.”

Project sponsors said they are optimistic that the remaining 265 MW of capacity will be sold. Following completion of siting, permitting, and construction, the line is expected to begin operation by mid-2013.

“This is another important step in the development of additional transmission capacity so that Wyoming’s world-class wind power can be delivered to regional markets,” said Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal (D). “This intertie strengthens an already solid working relationship between Wyoming and Colorado.”

The WCI Project is a public/private development partnership involving the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority (WIA), Trans-Elect Development Co., LLC, and the Western Area Power Administration, with Trans-Elect leading the development effort. The partnership was first announced September 27, 2005; the open-season auction culminates nearly three years of intensive development activity.

“Trans-Elect is pleased with the open season results which bring the WCI Project to this critical position,” said Robert Mitchell, CEO of Trans-Elect. “We are optimistic that commitments necessary for the project to proceed will be made soon.”

The timing of the open season was scheduled to be compatible with the Public Service Company of Colorado’s (PSCo’s) new resource plan, which includes purchasing 500 MW of wind with deliveries beginning in 2013. PSCo inten ds to issue a bid for the wind energy later this year, after the plan is approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.