Anschutz bets Wyo. wind will power Calif.

Jan. 21, 2013 at 4:00 AM

DENVER, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz is betting $9 billion California will want wind power from Wyoming, even though the Golden State says it doesn't and won't.

Gov. Jerry Brown says California can build its own renewable-energy projects, and state utility executives told The Denver Post if they have to look out of state, they'll look closer than Wyoming, more than 1,000 miles away.

"A couple of years ago it looked to us that the future was going to be large wind projects beyond Nevada, but not now," San Diego Gas & Electric Co. Vice President Matt Burkhart told the newspaper.

Six renewable-energy projects are being built within driving distance of San Diego, he said.

But 73-year-old Anschutz, whose Forbes magazine says is worth some $7.6 billion, is not put off.

The Sierra Madre and Chokecherry Wind Project, the largest commercial wind-generation facility proposed in North America, is "vintage Anschutz," said Martin Fridson, who featured the Anschutz in his book, "How to Be a Billionaire: Proven Strategies From the Titans of Wealth."

"Again and again he has extricated himself from situations that appeared hopeless by heading off in a surprising new direction," Fridson told the Post.

The wind project, taking three to four years to build, would put 1,000 wind turbines on 2,000 acres south of Rawlins, Wyo., at a cost of up to $6 billion.

The wind project got initial federal Bureau of Land Management approval in October. About half the turbines are proposed for public land.

A $3 billion TransWest power line would carry the wind farm's 3,000 megawatts of power 725 miles across four states to a location south of Las Vegas, where it could connect with California's power grid.

To win final BLM approval, Anschutz's Power Company of Wyoming must show that the specific turbine sites will not hurt wildlife.

Erik Molvar, a wildlife biologist with the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance in Laramie, Wyo., told the newspaper the BLM estimates the turbines could kill 46 to 64 golden eagles every year.

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