Build begins on Wyoming-to-California power line amid growing wind power concern

Wind turbines stand at a wind farm in 2022 along the Montana-Wyoming state line. (AP Photo/Emma H. Tobin, File)

RAWLINS, Wyo. — Portrait photographer Anne Brande shoots graduation and wedding engagement photos at scenic spots throughout southeastern Wyoming’s granite mountains and sprawling sagebrush valleys. But she worries what those views will look like in a few years, when hundreds more wind turbines dot the landscape. Wind energy is booming here.

“Dandelions in my yard, you know, when there’s four or five, it’s OK,” Brande said. “When my whole yard is dandelions, I’m just not too excited.”


In a state where being able to hunt, fish and camp in gorgeous and untrammeled nature is a way of life, worries about spoiled views, killed eagles and disturbed big-game animals such as elk and mule deer have grown with the spread of wind turbines.

On Tuesday, state and federal officials beneath fluttering flags formally broke ground on the TransWest Express, a transmission line that will move electricity from the $5 billion, 3,000-megawatt, 600-turbine Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind farm to southern California, a place legally mandated to switch to clean energy. The wind farm will be the country’s biggest yet.

Federal regulators gave the go-ahead to TransWest in April. The International Energy Agency and other experts say wind power is crucial to attaining a carbon-neutral world by 2050. Developers here estimate the wind farms will prevent the emission of between 7 and 11 million tons of carbon dioxide a year and provide enough carbon-free electricity to power 1 million homes.

“We want people to say yes — yes to clean energy in the same way that people said yes to fossil energy,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said at the groundbreaking that also brought out Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, a Republican.

Gordon has pledged to make Wyoming not just carbon neutral but carbon negative, looking to renewable energy and technologies such as carbon capture to make it happen.

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