July 28, 2014 — Federal environmental analysis and project planning and design remain underway and are moving forward for the TransWest Express Transmission Project, a regional electric transmission system designed to provide access to cost-effective wind energy supplies and to strengthen the nation's power grid.
One year ago, the Bureau of Land Management and Western Area Power Administration published their Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the TWE Project, after more than four years of environmental analysis, public input and collaboration among more than 50 federal, state and local cooperating agencies. Released on July 3, 2013, the Draft EIS informed the public of potential impacts associated with this new line, as well as measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate those impacts.
Since that milestone document was released, significant progress has been made:
- By September 2013, BLM and Western had completed a series of 13 Draft EIS open houses and public hearings throughout Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Nevada, collecting comments and feedback from more than 350 attendees. Materials shared at those meetings are available here.
- According to a public BLM report in April 2014, the 90-day Draft EIS public comment period yielded "roughly 1,000 comments" for the BLM and Western to review and consider as part of their work to prepare the Final EIS.
- By spring 2014, under a joint collaboration agreement between the two companies, TransWest Express LLC and Rocky Mountain Power/PacifiCorp engineers had completed preliminary co-located alignments of their respective transmission projects, the TWE Project and the Energy Gateway South project. This engineering work was done since the two transmission lines are being considered in many of the same or similar corridors.
- In May 2014, TransWest submitted updated versions of two key documents to the BLM and to Western: an Amended Preliminary Right-of-Way Application, and an Amended Preliminary Plan of Development. The Plan of Development provides further engineering and design details, outlines TransWest's applicant committed environmental mitigation measures, and includes TransWest's wildlife protection plans, among other resources. Where possible, the generally 2-mile-wide study corridors also were narrowed to more precisely show where the TWE Project would be sited. The documents can be found in the BLM's online document library.
The TWE Project is one of four remaining Rapid Response Team for Transmission projects in the western United States seeking rights-of-way across federal land. (In June 2013, project proponents cancelled Cascade Crossing.) As an RRTT project, the TWE Project's environmental permitting progress is tracked on a special federal website. According to the site's TWE Project page, the TWE Project Final EIS is scheduled for release on Sept. 19, 2014, with the Record of Decision scheduled for Dec. 19, 2014.
In October 2009, nine federal entities — the Department of Energy, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation — signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the goal to increase "their coordination to expedite and simplify building of transmission lines on federal lands." The RRTT is comprised of representatives from these agencies. For more information, visit the BLM site.
For more information on the TWE Project, visit www.transwestexpress.net.
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