HOUSTON, July 31 (Reuters) - A new Denver-based affiliate of Anschutz Corp will take over development of the TransWest Express Transmission Project, a $3 billion, 900-mile (1,450 km) high-voltage transmission line proposal designed to deliver wind-generated electricity from Wyoming to California, Arizona and Nevada, the company said.
TransWest Express LLC said it acquired the rights to develop the massive transmission project from National Grid (NG.L), which is withdrawing to focus on the U.S. Northeast where the company currently operates. No terms were disclosed.
Arizona Public Service (PNW.N), the state’s largest utility, will continue as an adviser to the TransWest Express, with the potential to invest later.
Affiliates of Anschutz Corp, led by Kansas-born billionaire Philip Anschutz, have been active in Wyoming for decades, as landowners, ranch operators and energy developers, the company said.
One of the Anschutz affiliates, Power Co of Wyoming, is developing a 2,000-megawatt wind farm in Carbon County.
Anschutz’ interest in wind and costly electric power infrastructure projects follows that of billionaires T. Boone Pickens of Texas and Warren Buffett of Nebraska.
Pickens is pushing a plan to reduce U.S. reliance on imported oil by developing large wind farms in the mid-section of the country so that natural gas now used for power production can be used instead as a transportation fuel. His plan would require large new power lines to transfer power from prairie states to more populated cities.
Pickens is also developing a 4,000-MW wind farm in the Texas Panhandle.
Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings, a unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) (BRKb.N), is in a joint venture with American Electric Power Co (AEP.N), to invest in grid projects. Initial plans are designed to take advantage of future wind development in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.
The TransWest Express will be capable of delivering 13,500 gigawatt-hours of electricity a year, expected to be a significant portion of renewable power requirements in the western U.S., according to an earlier report from National Grid.
Wyoming wind can be delivered at a cost of $72 to $101 per megawatt-hour, much less than the projected cost of electricity from concentrated solar technology, the report said.
California law requires utilities and other electric suppliers to obtain 20 percent of their retail sales from renewable sources by 2010. (Reporting by Eileen O’Grady; Editing by Marguerita Choy)