DATC to announce route of Zephyr project in March

Duke-ATC (DATC), the joint venture of Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) and American Transmission Company (ATC) that is planning the $3.5bn Zephyr transmission project that will connect Wyoming and Nevada, expects to announce a preferred route for the project late next month.

“We continue to refine the route and our plan is to announce the [preferred] route in March,” a DATC spokesperson told TransmissionHub Feb. 12, noting that the general route remains unchanged from the original plans. “The idea behind the project is to connect the wind generation in Wyoming to the California market.”

Wyoming is home to what many consider some of the richest wind resources in the country, but the state does not have enough demand of its own to use all the renewable energy it generates.

DATC purchased the Zephyr project in 2011 from its original owner, TransCanada Energy, and has since been considering several options for the 950-mile, 500-kV line that would originate at a converter station near Chugwater, Wyo., and end at a substation in southern Nevada’s El Dorado Valley, which is owned by Southern California Edison (SCE). While TransCanada had announced a preferred route, DATC chose to do its own analysis before announcing its preference.

As planned, the project would be capable of transporting 3,000 MW of energy, which would primarily be wind power, including a substantial amount from the proposed Pathfinder Wind Energy project.

Despite the cancellation of some projects in the West and the scaling back of others, including the Mountain States Transmission Intertie and Cascade Crossing projects, DATC remains convinced of the continued value of the Zephyr project.

“[T]hat’s why we’re trying to refine our plans and talk with folks in preparing for that next step of announcing a preferred route,” the spokesperson said.

After the route alignment is made public, DATC expects to meet with officials in the states and counties affected by the project. It will also meet with the federal agencies that will be affected.

“We’ll be working through the permitting process with the appropriate federal agencies once the preferred route is announced,” the spokesperson said, acknowledging that the process “will take some time.”

The company hopes to begin construction on the line some time in 2016, with an in-service date of 2020, according to TransmissionHub data.

SCE is a subsidiary of Edison International (NYSE:EIX).