Wyoming is the best source of cost-effective, high-capacity renewable energy to help meet the demands of California's future energy market, according to a new study released by the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC), which coordinates the bulk electric system across the Western U.S. and Canada.
Approved by the WECC board last week, the U.S. Department of Energy-funded 10-Year Regional Transmission Plan study provides WECC's interconnection-wide transmission plan and an interconnection-wide perspective on future energy transmission and generation.
By 2020, the demand for additional renewable energy to meet renewable portfolio standards will be greater in California than in any other Western state – representing 66% of all of the renewable energy demand in the WECC region through that time frame, the study notes.
California currently intends to meet its demand from renewable energy projects developed within the state, which also has policies that generally favor in-state renewable development. WECC's analysis indicates that if California instead met just 20% of its demand with deliveries of wind energy from Wyoming, California ratepayers could save approximately $600 million every year.
‘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 provides Californians with significant affordable energy today,’ says Gov. Matt Mead, R-Wyo.
Two of Wyoming's six major transmission projects under development were highlighted in WECC's 10-Year Plan: The 3 GW, 600 kV HVDC TransWest Express Transmission Project, jointly developed by TransWest Express LLC and Western Area Power Administration; and the 3 GW, 500 kV DC Zephyr Transmission Project.