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Federal “Rapid Response Team for Transmission” selects TransWest Express Transmission Project

Oct. 5, 2011 – The TransWest Express Transmission Project has been selected to receive special focus from a new federal team designed to help accelerate federal permitting processes, modernize the nation’s electric grid, and create thousands of construction and operations jobs.

The TWE Project is one of just seven transmission projects in the United States to be prioritized by the “Rapid Response Team for Transmission,” which is led by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies.

Announced by the federal agencies on Oct. 5, the Rapid Response Team’s purpose is to “accelerate responsible and informed deployment of several key transmission facilities.”

Further, by ensuring close coordination among federal agencies on siting and permitting of necessary transmission lines, the agencies will “create thousands of American jobs and accelerate the growth of domestic clean energy industries translating into more energy choices and cost savings for American consumers, and a more secure energy future for our country.”

“This is the kind of critical infrastructure we should be working together to advance in order to create jobs and move our nation toward energy independence,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

“The RRTT selection highlights the TWE Project’s importance to the overall grid, its economic and environmental benefits, and its ability to create and sustain competitive, cost-effective energy for consumers in California and other states,” said Bill Miller, president and CEO of TransWest Express LLC. “The TWE Project already is advanced in the federal Environmental Impact Statement process and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the federal agencies under this new streamlined process.

“The RRTT program is another thoughtful and strategic example of how the federal government can further the country’s energy and land use goals by supporting private investment and addressing the regulatory complexities associated with large infrastructure development.”

The TWE Project is a proposed 725-mile, 600 kV, direct current transmission line that will deliver reliable, cost-effective renewable energy from high-capacity Wyoming wind farms to the urban areas that need more renewable power in California, Nevada and Arizona. With 3,000 megawatts of capacity, the TWE Project also will provide an important electrical system upgrade to improve the reliability and stability of the entire western U.S. power grid.

Approximately 60% of the proposed route crosses federal land between the TWE Project’s northern terminal in Carbon County, Wyoming, and its southern terminal south of Las Vegas, Nevada. Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, an Environmental Impact Statement is being prepared by Bureau of Land Management and Western Area Power Administration as joint lead agencies, along with multiple other federal, state and county entities participating as Cooperating Agencies. The Notice of Intent to prepare the EIS was published Jan. 4, 2011; public scoping has been completed; and a Draft EIS is anticipated next year.

Western Area Power Administration, one of four power marketing administrations within the Department of Energy, also is pursuing 50 percent ownership of the TWE Project. The partnership is part of Western’s Transmission Infrastructure Program, which implements Western’s authority to construct new transmission lines and thereby modernize our nation’s infrastructure, enhance energy independence, create jobs and facilitate renewable energy delivery. 

The RRTT includes other executive branch departments, agencies and offices that will accelerate deployment of the TWE Project and other selected transmission facilities by “coordinating statutory permitting, review, and consultation schedules and processes among involved federal and state agencies as appropriate through Integrated Federal Planning.”

Once all permits and rights-of-way have been obtained for the TWE Project, up to 1,550 direct construction jobs will be created at peak during the estimated three-year construction period. In addition, an estimated 5,000 to 9,000 indirect jobs will be created nationally because of the requisite demand for related materials and services. The TWE Project also will facilitate the development of new wind projects in Wyoming, which will lead to an estimated 1,800 additional direct construction jobs and 160 permanent jobs.

For more information about Western, visit http://ww2.wapa.gov.

TransWest Express LLC is a wholly owned affiliate of The Anschutz Corporation, a privately held company based in Denver. For more information about TransWest Express LLC and the TWE Project, visit www.transwestexpress.net.

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