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Construction is set to begin later this year on the $3-billion TransWest Express Transmission project, a 732-mile high-voltage interregional transmission network designed to deliver about 20,000 GW of renewable energy per year to systems serving southern California, Nevada and Arizona from Wyoming’s burgeoning onshore wind farms.

Project developer Anschutz Corp. selected a joint venture of Barnard Construction Co. Inc. and Wilson Construction Co. in June for an engineering, procurement and construction contract that includes a 400-mile, 525-kV direct current transmission line from Wyoming to Utah, where the direct current power will be converted to alternating current. From there, the joint venture will build a 300-mile, 500-kV AC transmission line from Utah to near Las Vegas. Four AC substations are also part of the project.

TransWest Express will initially carry energy from the Power Co. of Wyoming’s $5-billion 3,000-MW Chokecherry and Sierra Wind Energy Project, with 600 wind turbines under construction on Anschutz-owned land in Carbon County. Both projects are set to be completed by the end of 2028.

Pattern Energy also said it began construction in early September on the estimated $8-billion SunZia transmission project that will carry an initial 3 GW of clean power to southwest U.S. markets. 

Hitachi Energy and Quanta Services won contracts to design, build and supply a 3.5-GW onshore wind energy farm in central New Mexico and a 550-mile transmission line from that state to Arizona. Pattern plans to build the line and wind projects simultaneously in one stage for the entire system, with completion set for 2026. About 30% of the route is on federal land, with right-of-way agreements signed with New Mexico and Arizona.

The U.S. high-voltage transmission network needs to expand by more than 50% by 2035 to meet projected levels of clean energy development, said the U.S. Energy Dept. earlier this year. In a Sept. 6 report, the Natural Resources Defense Council urged federal energy oversight agencies to quickly designate new “national interest” transmission corridors, where projects are eligible for federal investment and permitting boosts.



600-MW North Dakota Gas Plant Work Gets Underway

Construction started on the 600-MW expansion of a natural gas power plant in Williston, N.D., operated by Basin Electric Power Cooperative. The $780-million plant will combine two simple-cycle combustion turbines and six reciprocating engine units. Set to finish in 2025, it will address grid stability in the Bakken energy region. Burns & McDonnell will self-perform most work through its AZCO unit.



Firm Wins $200M NY Offshore Wind Work as Project Is OK’d

Under a roughly $200-million contract, Haugland Energy Group has begun installing an underground duct bank system in Brookhaven, N.Y., for a planned 18-mile onshore transmission line for the 924-MW Sunrise Wind offshore wind energy project. It won a Rhode Island agency OK last month necessary for moving forward, but more state approvals and a final federal sign-off are needed for it to be built 30 miles off Newport, R.I., to deliver power to New York.

The U.S. Interior Dept. also has issued a record of decision for Revolution Wind, Rhode Island and Connecticut's first utility-scale offshore wind farm. To be located approximately 15 miles off the coast of Rhode Island, the 704-MW project is designed to power more than 350,000 homes across the two states. Pending federal approval of its construction and operations Plan, work will ramp up in 2024, with operation to begin the following year. No contractor has been named. Ørsted and utility Eversource are both projects’ developers.



Firm Set to Win First US Air Force Site Micro-nuclear Unit

The U.S. Air Force is set to award nuclear power startup firm Oklo a project to design, construct, own and operate the service’s first base nuclear power microreactor. The 30-year fixed-price contract, whose terms were not disclosed, would be at the now coal-fueled Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. The reactor would have to meet a 5-MW baseload demand. Oklo now seeks U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval for its plant, set to operate by the end of 2027.