Zephyr transmission project starts routing phase

The proposed Zephyr transmission project has entered the routing phase, with talks taking place between developer Duke-American Transmission Company (DATC) and U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offices in the three states the project will cross.

DATC is discussing possible preliminary routes for the 500-kV DC line with BLM officials in Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada.

“We’re looking at all of the options, then sharing them with the BLM [offices] and asking them for initial feedback, with the goal of narrowing those route options,” a DATC spokesperson told TransmissionHub on June 18.

“The goal is to reduce those route options to a smaller set of alternatives [which] we would move into the [national environmental policy act, or] NEPA process, quite possibly by the first quarter of next year,” the spokesperson said. “At that time, we would also kick off our public outreach process for any portions of the proposed route that are not on public land.”

According to TransmissionHub data, Zephyr is a 950-mile long, 500-kV DC transmission line that will originate near Chugwater, Wyo., in the southeast portion of the state. From there, the line will track west to near Borah, Idaho, then south through eastern Nevada, terminating in the Eldorado Valley near Las Vegas. The precise route, however, has yet to be determined.

“Because of the size of this project, the routing and siting process is going to be lengthy,” the spokesperson said. There will be scoping meetings, the company will talk to community leaders, and it will refine the proposal as the process continues, the spokesperson added.

The project, which was originally proposed by TransCanada Energy, aims to facilitate energy transfer between Wyoming, Idaho and the Southwestern states. In July 2011, TransCanada transferred ownership of the project to its shippers Horizon Wind Energy, BP Wind Energy, and Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy. DATC acquired the Zephyr project in December 2011.

The project will move wind energy from the planned Pathfinder 2,100-MW wind farm in Chugwater, Wyo., to markets in California and southwestern U.S., according to the DATC web site.

The project is estimated to cost $3.5bn, and construction could start in 2017.