With the slightest hint of winter in the air, representatives from industry, academia and government came together in Sweetwater County, Wyoming on a recent September afternoon to commemorate the state’s long history in U.S. energy production and the leading role it is taking in the next generation of energy, including scaling up and commercializing the use of clean hydrogen.
Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon, meeting with industry employees and local elected officials in Wamsutter, spoke about the creation of the four-state pact to pursue a regional hydrogen hub in connection with the federal 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This Western Interstate Hydrogen Hub effort, known as WISHH, is an example of interstate and bipartisan cooperation to advance innovative solutions for the country’s energy future.
“I really cannot think of a time in our history when the challenges have been as pronounced as they are, the opportunity is as broad as it is, and the chance for people here to make a difference has never been greater,” said Gordon. “And really all we need is the will to get it done. We are at that apex that allows us to solve a number of these problems that our country and our world is facing.”
Williams, an energy infrastructure company that handles 30 percent of the nation’s natural gas, hosted the event to reinforce its commitment to operating in the state and to share its vision for the energy economy in Wyoming. Company leaders focused on the need for a comprehensive strategy that builds on the foundation of core energy sectors while supporting and investing in the growth of next generation energy sources.
“What we are seeing in the core natural gas business that we have today across all of our assets especially here in Wyoming is very exciting,” said Williams Chief Operating Officer Micheal Dunn. “Now we start coupling that with the other opportunities we are looking at … renewable energy, hydrogen, carbon capture … we are going to take advantage of the infrastructure we already have here in place in Wyoming and use that for the benefit of these new and growing industries.”
Williams employs more than 190 people in Wyoming who support more than 4,600 miles of gathering and transmission pipelines and three compressor facilities in the state. Nationwide, the company operates more than 30,000 miles of pipelines connecting clean energy to some of the country’s largest markets. In 2021, Williams consolidated three legacy upstream assets held by other companies to establish a contiguous footprint of over 1.2 million net acres operated by Williams’ joint venture partner, Crowheart Energy.
Also in 2021, Williams was awarded a nearly $1 million grant from the Wyoming Energy Authority to complete a feasibility study to evaluate water access, compatibility and asset integrity in support of clean hydrogen production and transport in the vicinity of Wamsutter and Opal. The study is being conducted in conjunction with the University of Wyoming’s School of Energy Resources (SER) and is expected to be complete in early 2023.
“We are excited about Williams not only acquiring the assets here around Wamsutter but also just in general about what Williams does,” said Eugene Holubnyak, SER’s director of the hydrogen energy research center. “I’m personally quite excited about the Williams team, their capabilities and their technical expertise, and the vision that Williams has for energy going into the future.”