After comprehensive evaluation and extensive public engagement, Western Area Power Administration has published the final environmental impact statement, or final EIS, for a project to rebuild and consolidate two transmission lines between the Estes Substation and the Flatiron Substation, west of Loveland, Colorado.
The final EIS is a culmination of a five-year environmental study that follows the National Environmental Policy Act. The document defines the proposed route, also called the agency preferred alternative, for rebuilding a single, double-circuit power line that would replace two 60-year-old transmission lines.
"The existing transmission lines are aging and deteriorating," said WAPA NEPA Document Manager Mark Wieringa. "They need to be replaced to make sure the transmission system continues to deliver power reliably and safely to Front Range communities. The preferred alternative would consolidate both lines into one, eliminate about 16 miles of transmission line, and allow the abandoned right of way to revegetate naturally."
The final EIS describes route alternatives and analyzes their environmental impacts. The document also addresses public comments made to the draft EIS previously released in September 2014, and thoroughly analyzes and provides the rationale for the agency preferred alternative route announced in December 2016. The route mostly follows existing transmission line rights of way to minimize environmental impacts.
"The feedback received during the scoping and draft EIS comment periods ensured this EIS would be a comprehensive analysis of the different alternatives, and ultimately informed the decision to use parts of different alternatives in the selected route," added Wieringa.
The Canyon Lakes District of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest, a cooperating agency on the EIS, concurred on the agency preferred alternative selection.
WAPA will prepare a record of decision regarding the project no earlier than 30 days from now. The Forest Service will issue a separate record of decision for the project. More information about Forest Service's NEPA process is available on its website.
If WAPA decides to rebuild the line following the final EIS recommendation, construction would begin no earlier than May 2019.
Western Area Power Administration proposes to rebuild approximately 32 miles of double wood-pole structure 115-kilovolt transmission line that exists between Estes Park and Flatiron Reservoir in Larimer County, Colo. The proposal would remove 16 miles of transmission line, and modernize 16 miles to steel-pole double-circuit 115-kV transmission line. The reduction and modernizing of transmission lines will occur on Federal, state and private lands. The public parcels are administered by the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest, which is a cooperating agency in the project.
The proposed project would:
- Rebuild aging and deteriorating transmission lines
- Reduce the number of linear miles of transmission corridors and the associated environmental footprint
- Ensure that the transmission lines comply with applicable codes and requirements
- Reduce potential for disruption of customer service due to wildfire hazards
- Improve access for maintenance and emergencies