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Chokecherry Sierra Madre

The Power Company of Wyoming has constructed about 40 miles of roads to service the future Chokecherry Sierra Madre wind farm near Rawlins.  

An oil and gas firm secured Friday the last of its necessary Wyoming permits for a 730-mile-high power transmission line to connect the largest proposed onshore wind development in the Rockies with power customers in the Southwest and California.

The Chokecherry Sierra Madre Wind Project and TransWest Express Transmission Project — developed by subsidiaries of the Anschutz Corporation — were first proposed nearly a decade ago. The joint projects have waded through a bevy of right of ways, environmental analyses and wildlife permits in the years since, to gain permission for an approximately 1,000 turbine wind farm on a checkerboard of state, federal and private land just south of Rawlins and connect it to power demand in the Southwest via the high-voltage transmission line, TransWest Express.

TransWest will be a direct current line from Wyoming to Utah and an alternating current from Utah to Hoover Dam in Nevada.

Last year, the Power Company of Wyoming began construction on the first phase of the wind project, which will equal up to 500 turbines. On Friday, with a decision from the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council — an independent arm of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality — the transmission line secured the last of the permitting needed for the 92 miles of the line that will lie within Wyoming.

Bill Miller, CEO of TransWest and President of the Power Company of Wyoming, said the Industrial Siting Council’s decision represents the completion of the transmission line’s state and federal permits. The project still lacks some county-level permits in Utah and Nevada, which are expected this year, according to the company.

“We anticipate beginning construction next year on this critical energy infrastructure,” Miller said in a statement. “The TWE Project will create jobs, open up new markets for Wyoming energy products, strengthen the regional electric grid, and deliver economic benefits to Wyoming and the West for years to come.”

The Chokecherry Sierra Madre Project, once completed, would represent double the amount of installed wind power capacity that is currently in Wyoming.

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Energy Reporter

Heather Richards writes about energy and the environment. A native of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, she moved to Wyoming in 2015 to cover natural resources and government in Buffalo. Heather joined the Star Tribune later that year.

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