Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) has decided to use the agency preferred alternative route to build a new double-circuit 115-kV transmission line and remove two existing old transmission lines between Estes Substation and Flatiron Substation, west of Loveland, Colorado.
This decision was announced in a record of decision published March 21 in the Federal Register.
WAPA currently owns, operates and maintains two 60- to 75-year-old transmission lines that begin and end in the same locations. Age, poor condition and changing needs in line access and vegetation management prompted WAPA to evaluate changes to the transmission lines to ensure continued safe and reliable energy delivery across the Front Range.
As described in the Final Environmental Impact Statement published in March 2018, the preferred route consolidates both lines into one, eliminating about 16 miles of transmission line and allowing the abandoned right of way to revegetate naturally.
Portions of both existing rights of way and limited new rights of way will be used for the new transmission line to limit or reduce the impact on visual, recreation and other environmental resources; secure adequate rights of way for the transmission line; maintain or decrease the number of structures along the line and ensure appropriate access to structures for reliability and safety.
The record of decision also includes changes to WAPA’s vegetation management practices to increase reliability, reduce wildfire risk and meet updated regulatory mandates and utility standards.
The Estes-to-Flatiron Transmission Rebuild Project involved extensive public engagement and evaluation of environmental and socioeconomic impacts over several years, including public hearings, meetings, and workshops.
“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,” said NEPA Document Manager Mark Wieringa.
The Canyon Lakes District of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest, a cooperating agency on the EIS, will issue its record of decision in the near future.
Construction would begin no earlier than January 2020.