Wyoming will see a significant number of new wind energy projects under an Integrated Resource Plan unveiled by Rocky Mountain Power on Tuesday.

The plan, totaling some $3.5 billion, will involve significant upgrades to existing wind plants, construction of a 140 miles of transmission line in Wyoming and adding up to 1,100 megawatts of new wind projects -- primarily in Wyoming -- by the end of 2020.

"This plan provides more diversity in the energy we use, which helps keep electricity prices low for customers and improves the economies of our states," Rocky mountain Power President and CEO Cindy A. Crane said in a statement.

The company expects to use federal production tax credits to cover the costs of completing wind upgrades and new wind developments by 2020, which the company says will provide a net savings for customers over the life of the projects.

"This ambitious plan -- a nearly $3 billion investment in Wyoming -- diversifies Wyoming's economy, expands markets, presents workforce training opportunities, addsd jobs and strengthens the tax base in local communities," Governor Matt Mead said in a news release from Rocky Mountain Power.

"I see great potential for Wyoming workers and rate payers as this plan is implemented," Mead added.

The plan includes several big steps toward the expansion of wind energy developments in Wyoming:

  • Upgrading more than 900 megawatts of existing wind plants with larger blades and newer technology to generate 20 percent more energy in a wider range of wind conditions and capture federal production tax credit value for customers.
  • Beginning construction on a segment of the Gateway West 500-kilovolt transmission line between Medicine Bow and the Jim Bridger power plant in the southwestern part of the state. The 140-mile line would enable additional wind generation, improve efficiency and relieve transmission congestion.
  • Facilitating construction of up to 1,100 megawatts of new wind projects, primarily in Wyoming, by the end of 2020, capturing federal production tax credit value for customers.
  • Adding up to another 859 megawatts of new wind -- 85 megawatts in Wyoming and 774 in Idaho -- between 2028 and 2036.
  • Building up to 1,040 megawatts of new solar between 2028 and 2036. Approximately 77 percent of the solar is assumed to be built in Utah and 23 percent to be built in states served by Pacific Power.
  • Continuing a cost-conscious transition that adds more energy diversity, the plan incorporates the company's environmental compliance obligations for its coal plants.

The company says its long-term plans include energy efficiency as a key component.

"The 2017 IRP anticipates energy efficiency will meet 88 percent of the energy growth needs during the next 10 years -- up from 86 percent from the 2015 forecast," the company's statement reads.

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