Talking TransWest and grid transmission policy on The Weather Channel

Watch Canary Media’s Jeff St. John discuss the challenges, costs and benefits of a much bigger grid on the cable channel’s climate show, Pattrn.
By Jeff St. John

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(Pattrn)

One gigantic, multi-state-spanning transmission line has finally gotten approval. Now there are thousands of miles more of them to go. 

On Wednesday, I hopped on to The Weather Channel’s climate-focused show, Pattrn, to talk with meteorologists Stephanie Abrams and Jordan Steele about the challenges in building the power-grid infrastructure the country needs to get to a zero-carbon grid — and why the costs are worth the benefits.

Specifically, we discussed the TransWest Express transmission line, a $3 billion project that will carry up to 3 gigawatts of power from the wind-power-rich Wyoming high plains through Colorado, Utah and Nevada to the clean-power-hungry cities of California.

After 18 years of planning, permitting and negotiating with federal, state, tribal and local authorities and private landowners, TransWest received its final federal approval last month. If all goes to plan, the line will be built and go into operation in 2028, carrying enough electricity for about 2 million homes.

Studies indicate that the U.S. must double or triple its existing transmission grid capacity to meet the Biden administration’s goal of reaching carbon-free electricity by 2035. But the pace of grid expansion has slowed — and a number of high-profile projects have been delayed or canceled — over the past decade.

Major transmission projects in New York and New England are forging ahead despite opposition from landowners, environmental groups and, in some cases, competing energy interests. But the country has a lot of work ahead to break open the transmission logjam that’s become one of the main barriers to clean energy growth.

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Jeff St. John is director of news and special projects at Canary Media. He covers innovative grid technologies, rooftop solar and batteries, clean hydrogen, EV charging and more.