July 3, 2013 – Federal agencies today announced the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the TransWest Express Transmission Project, a regional electric transmission system proposed by TransWest Express LLC to provide access to cost-effective wind energy supplies and to strengthen the nation’s power grid.
A Notice of Availability of the Draft EIS from the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Department of Energy appears in today’s Federal Register, the official daily publication of the federal government. A 90-day public comment period is underway.
The approximately 2,000-page printed Draft EIS document for the TWE Project was prepared by the Bureau of Land Management and Western Area Power Administration as joint lead federal agencies. It results from more than four years of environmental analysis, public input and collaboration among more than 50 federal, state and local cooperating agencies. The report informs the public of various factors associated with this new transmission line, including its potential ecological, aesthetic, cultural, economic and social effects. The draft report also identifies an agency preferred alternative route from south-central Wyoming, through northwest Colorado and central Utah, and through southeastern Nevada before the route terminates at the Eldorado Valley electric power complex near Hoover Dam.
BLM and Western officials will host 13 open house meetings in all four states so the public can review the environmental analysis, review the agency preferred alternative route, ask questions, and provide written comments for BLM and Western to consider as they prepare the Final Environmental Impact Statement, scheduled for release in 2014.
“Wyoming’s strong wind profile ideally complements both the renewable energy resources and the energy demand in California, Nevada and Arizona. By providing a direct link between these diverse regions, the TWE Project will allow Desert Southwest utilities to access and use Wyoming wind to help balance grid operations, reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and provide competitively priced power to ratepayers,” said Bill Miller, TransWest president and CEO.
“We appreciate the cooperation and support at all levels for the TWE Project, from the local county commissioners who worked together to determine consensus routes through their jurisdictions, to the federal Rapid Response Team for Transmission dedicated to improving the quality and timeliness of permitting. We encourage all stakeholders to carefully review the Draft EIS, as we will do over the next 90 days, and to participate in the NEPA process.”
“This is a major milestone in the NEPA process, and we hope people read the Draft EIS and provide comments,” said Western Administrator Mark Gabriel. “We are here to help strengthen the energy highway by connecting communities with reliable power and renewable generation. The results of the final NEPA review and other analyses will guide us when we decide whether to continue to participate in the project beyond the development phase.”
The Draft EIS documents, a newsletter and maps are available from the federal agencies at http://www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/info/NEPA/documents/hdd/transwest.html. The site also details the 13 public meetings, which begin Aug. 14 in Rawlins, Wyo., and end Sept. 6 in St. George, Utah.
Comments for BLM’s and Western’s consideration may be submitted by attending a meeting, sending an email to TransWest_WYMail@blm.gov or by mailing comments to:
Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming State Office
TransWest Express Transmission Project
P.O. Box 20678
Cheyenne, WY 82003
The TWE Project is a proposed 600 kilovolt direct current transmission line that will provide up to 3,000 megawatts of capacity. It is designed to deliver about 20,000 gigawatt-hours per year of clean and sustainable energy generated in Wyoming to utilities in California, Nevada and Arizona that need cost-effective supplies of renewable power.
As a regional transmission upgrade, the TWE Project also will strengthen the capacity and reliability of the western U.S. power grid and create more than 1,000 construction-related jobs at peak each year during the estimated three-year construction period. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the International Union of Operating Engineers, and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters strongly support the development and construction of the TWE Project.
Western, a power marketing administration of the U.S. Department of Energy, is proposing to participate as a joint owner of the TWE Project; a decision on whether to be a joint owner will be made when the development phase is complete. Western is authorized to contribute up to $25 million of its $3.25 billion borrowing authority for the project development phase, which includes the environmental review and other technical feasibility studies.
About two-thirds of TransWest’s 725-mile proposed route for the TWE Project is sited on federal land, primarily managed by BLM and the U.S. Forest Service, and follows designated utility corridors and existing transmission when possible to minimize the project’s environmental footprint. TransWest also will implement a comprehensive, science-based conservation plan including multiple conservation measures to minimize the project’s potential impacts on wildlife. The initial right-of-way application for the project was filed in 2007, and the federal agencies completed public scoping from January to April 2011.
For more information about TransWest and the TWE Project, including its selection as an interagency Rapid Response Team for Transmission project, visit www.transwestexpress.net.
For more information about Western’s Transmission Infrastructure Program, visit http://ww2.wapa.gov/sites/western/recovery/Pages/default.aspx.
For more information about BLM’s programs and goals regarding transmission development on federal land, visit http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/energy/transmission.html.
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