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Four energy companies proposed an $8 billion project Tuesday that within a decade could send power generated by wind on Wyoming's plains to power-thirsty households in Southern California. The sprawling venture would create one of the country's largest wind farms on land north of Cheyenne, a huge energy storage site inside Utah caverns and a 525-mile electric transmission line connecting them. "This project would be the 21st century's Hoover Dam," said Jeff Meyer of Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy, referring to the 726-foot high span across the Colorado River that for decades has produced hydroelectric power for Nevada, Arizona and California.
The new proposal would potentially generate twice as much energy as that 1930s-era dam, which produces enough power for 1.3 million people annually. Success hinges on a string of uncertainties, including clearing government regulatory hurdles and striking agreements to sell the power that would be essential to secure financing. Pathfinder, Magnum Energy, Dresser-Rand and Duke-American Transmission Co. said they would submit the blueprint to the Southern California Public Power Authority by early 2015.