Add the name of Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz to the growing list of investors throwing their hats into the ring of a booming wind energy and transmission industry in the American west.
The Anschutz Corp. said Tuesday it has acquired the rights to a proposed $3 billion, 3,000-megawatt transmission project that will bring electricity from Wyoming to Southern California, Las Vegas and Phoenix.
The 900-mile TransWest Express Project will carry power from a 2,000-megawatt wind farm Anschutz is developing in south-central Wyoming, a large portion of which will be built on a ranch he has owned for about 15 years.
A study by National Grid released this month concluded that wind-generated power produced in southern Wyoming is the most viable option for meeting the clean power demands of the desert Southwest. Both the wind farm and the proposed transmission project still must get approval from state and federal agencies, which will include an environmental impact study and opportunities for public comment. The permitting process will likely take 24-36 months to complete.
This is the fist venture into renewable energy for Anschutz, who made his fortune in oil, gas, real estate, telecommunications and entertainment. Today’s news comes in the wake of two major developments in US wind energy development: the well-publicized T. Boone Pickens push for a 4,000 MW wind farm and associated grid infrastructure in Texas, and the recent approval of a 909 megawatt wind farm in Oregon.