Cost to build a 1,000 turbine wind farm and associated transmission line

Here’s another data point for the cost to build out a large wind farm along with the 700 mile transmission line. Can’t have a huge slice-and-dice operation without a way to move the electricity to a buyer.

The Denver Business Journal reports Anschutz-backed Wyoming wind far, biggest in North America, files for permit.

Here is one key paragraph with lots of data:

The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Program wind farm is being developed by the Power Company of Wyoming LLC, a subsidiary of The Anschutz Corp. It involves 1,000 wind turbines capable of generating up to 3,000 megawatts of power — enough to support the electricity demands of about 900,000 homes.

Cost of the constructing the turbines is $6B per the article, and is based on 2008 plans.

In addition, a 725 mile transmission line will carry the power across Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and end up in southern Nevada. Cost of building that line is $3B per the article.

Key info for future reference:

  • 3,000MW – Maximum theoretical capacity for those moments when the wind is blowing at the right speed at every turbine
  • 3MW/turbine – Maximum theoretical capacity for each turbine (same caveats; i.e. that is for the moments of just exact wind speed).
  • $6M – Cost per turbine
  • $2M/MW – cost per megawatt of capacity

For the transmission line

  • $4.1M – construction cost per mile
  • $3M – transmission line cost per turbine
  • $1M/MW – transmission cost per megawatt of capacity

Here’s the construction costs:

  • $2M – turbine cost per MW
  • $1M – transmission line construction cost per MW
  • $3M – construction cost per MW of theoretical capacity

Construction of first 500 towers will take until 2018. Building out the next 500 turbines could start in 2019.

A few tidbits from the company’s website:

The project will be half on private land and half on federal land.

This will be the largest wind farm in the U.S.

Towers will be up to 328 feet tall with 200 foot blades.

No decision yet on the specific turbines to be installed.

After a cursory read of the site, I didn’t see any indication of whether any customers have been signed.

Link to state website is broken. No indication in the article or the company’s site how many eagles and other protected birds will be ‘taken’ each year for the next 4 decades or where the money will be found to remove the towers in mid-century.

(Hat tip: Million Dollar Way)

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