NREL Economic Study Identifies Benefits Relative to Transmission and Generation Infrastructure across State Lines

The Wyoming Project shows how transmission and generation infrastructure originating in Wyoming could result in significant benefits for Colorado.

The new study, conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), was commissioned by the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority (WIA) with majority funding by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), made possible with the support of Wyoming’s State Energy Office.

The Study premised 900 MW of wind generation; 225 MW of natural gas-fired generation; and a 180 mile 345 kV AC transmission line for a total investment of $1.8 billion. The benefits in terms of jobs and economic output include:

  • An average of nearly 4,000 jobs annually during the Projects’ three-year construction period–1,300 in Wyoming and 2,700 in Colorado each year
  • Annual wages paid to construction jobs supported by the projects range from $52,000 to $75,000
  • Nearly 300 permanent jobs in Wyoming and 100 permanent jobs in Colorado that earn annual wages between $41,000 and $63,000 during operation
  • Total economic activity (gross output) of $2.4 billion during the projects’ construction and approximately $70 million annually during operation over a 20 year period
  • Total allocated economic output which includes the construction and 20 year operation periods yield a benefit to Colorado of $2.2 billion and $1.5 billion to Wyoming

“This Study shows that infrastructure built in one state can benefit another state. Given the premises of the Study for transmission and generation built in Wyoming, Colorado is a bigger beneficiary of total economic output by a differential of $700 million” said Loyd Drain, Executive Director, Wyoming Infrastructure Authority. “I am hopeful this work by NREL will give pause to those who would believe that infrastructure built out of state yields zero benefits.”

For Wyoming’s wind resource to reach Colorado, new transmission infrastructure is required. Currently a transmission project originating in Wyoming is under development:

  • Wyoming-Colorado Intertie Project (WCI): This 345 kV AC line would originate in the Wheatland/Chugwater area of Wyoming with an interconnection into the Colorado grid in northeast Colorado in Morgan County. The Project is being developed through a public/private partnership between the LS Power Group and the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority (WIA). The Project has a 2017 in-service date.
  • Wyoming Wind and Power, a Wyoming company, applied to FERC in July 2011 to acquire 100 per cent of the capacity on WCI pursuant to a transmission service agreement (TSA) and was granted approval effective July 9, 2012.