Denver billionaire investor Philip Anschutz is plugging into the red-hot renewable-energy field, announcing plans to develop multibillion-dollar wind-farm and transmission-line projects.
The Anschutz Corp. said Tuesday it has acquired the rights to a proposed $3 billion, 3,000-megawatt transmission project that will run from Wyoming to Southern California, Las Vegas and Phoenix. The 900-mile project will carry power from a 2,000-megawatt wind farm Anschutz is developing in Carbon County in south-central Wyoming.
One megawatt of wind generation can power 300 homes.
The renewable-energy development is the first for Anschutz, who made his fortune in oil, gas, real estate, telecommunications and other ventures.
“Anschutz has his roots in energy,” said Jim Monaghan, a spokesman for Anschutz. “It’s just a natural thing for a broad-based investment company that has roots in energy to be invested in alternative sources of clean energy.”
Another billionaire investor, Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens, this month called for the nation to boost its wind-power generation from less than 2 percent to 20 percent over the next decade as part of a plan to cut dependence on foreign oil.
“These projects were in play before we saw anything publicly from Pickens,” Monaghan said.
A large portion of the wind farm will be built on a ranch Anschutz has owned for about 15 years, said Bill Miller, a longtime executive with the Anschutz Corp., based in Denver.
The project will have to go through a permitting process with the Bureau of Land Management because it crosses federal land. That process is expected to take 24 months to 30 months, Miller said.
Construction of the wind farm could take two years to four years after permitting is completed, he said. The wind farm will span 100,000 acres and is being developed by Power Co. of Wyoming, a company owned by Anschutz. The wind farm is expected to cost billions of dollars, but Miller didn’t provide an estimate because of the fluctuating price of materials.
The permitting process for the transmission project could take up to 36 months because it will cut across multiple states. Anschutz acquired rights to the Transwest Express Transmission Project from National Grid, a London- based transmission and utility firm that has operations on the East Coast.