A new federally funded study argues that wind energy from Wyoming is the most cost-effective method to help California meet its growing energy needs.
California’s current policy is to rely on in-state projects to achieve its mandated renewable energy demands.
But the Western Electric Coordinating Council report found that California ratepayers could save $600 million annually if the state imports 20 percent of its renewable energy portfolio from Wyoming’s high-capacity wind energy sources.
Loyd Drain, executive director of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, said the report could help Wyoming make its case for California to explore its out-of-state options.
“It always good to get this type of independent, third-party analysis,” he said. “I definitely think this is economically feasible, given the quality of our wind.”
If Wyoming can build the transmission lines and then convince California to import the energy, Drain said the state stands to gain billions in revenue. He said in addition to temporary construction jobs, this also would lead to hundreds of permanent jobs being created.
At a Wyoming Infrastructure Authority meeting last month, Gov. Matt Mead said
Wyoming does not want to miss out on the opportunity to diversify its energy sector by expanding wind energy projects.
Mead said he is working with California Gov. Jerry Brown to convince California to explore all of its renewable energy options. He said the new study, which was released this week, will help show that Wyoming can provide a viable, low-cost resource.
“This information is helpful in our efforts to encourage California to look to Wyoming for its renewable requirements and to see that Wyoming can efficiently provide a portion of their renewable energy tomorrow, just as Wyoming efficiently provided Californians with significant affordable energy today,” he said in a statement.
Drain said even if California welcomed renewable energy sources from other states, Wyoming has a long way to go before there is the infrastructure to transmit the wind energy there.
There are six major transmission projects ongoing in the state. Drain said the projects need to go through lengthy — and sometimes expensive — permitting processes and environmental studies before construction can begin.
Only one of the projects has reached the environmental impact statement stage, he said.
He said under ideal circumstances, the projects could be ready to export the energy to California by 2017.