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Rocky Mountain Power puts in application for new transmission line

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It came out last week that Rocky Mountain Power had indeed submitted an application for a $2 billion transmission line in Wyoming. As proposed, the line will stretch 142 miles, transporting energy from a substation close to Medicine Bow to one in Mona, Utah. This project fits into the utility’s integrated resource plan, which lays out a strategy to boost the state’s renewable capacity and service reliability. Even more broadly, this is part of Rocky Mountain Power’s Energy Vision 2020. Here’s how the initiative is summed up in the Casper Star Tribune

“a $3.1 billion renewable energy initiative launched in 2017 to increase the utility’s renewable portfolio and save ratepayers costs down the road. By the end of 2020, the utility will have added 1,150 megawatts of new wind resources to the state.”

In addition to the project’s obvious electric-service benefits, Rock Mountain Power seems keen on branding it as a big money maker for Wyoming. The utility estimates the transmission line will generate $97 million in tax revenue and create and maintain 230 jobs during construction. 

It will be interesting to see if this project and others like it get the green light in the near future. Many areas of the country are in desperate need of transmission infrastructure, especially if they hope to accommodate more renewable generation. Also, with an ailing economy, it’s possible that transmission projects catch on as a type of economic stimulus. That was actually the theme of a big L.A. Times article in late July:

“Building more power lines wouldn’t stop the spread of COVID-19. But energy experts say investing in transmission would put people back to work and help urban areas across the country ditch fossil fuels. The burning of those fuels not only drives the climate crisis, but generates lung-damaging air pollution that has been linked to greater likelihood of death from the coronavirus.”

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