A 60-day public comment period opened April 26, 2013 for the Final Environmental Impact Statement of the proposed Gateway West transmission line. The 500-kV line, proposed by Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power, would string 990 mi of new transmission between the Windstar substation in Glenrock and a substation 20 mi outside Boise, Idaho. The line would carry between 1,500 and 3,000 MW of electricity. The Wyoming portion of the line would closely mirror the I-80 corridor before deviating to pass just north or south of Kemmerer, depending on the final route.
“The transmission line, if approved, would help support a clean energy economy by bringing a diversified portfolio of renewable and conventional energy to the grid,” said Bureau of Land Management Wyoming State Director Don Simpson in a release.
Wind companies and the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority have voiced the need for additional transmission before being able to put online any major new wind projects. And new conventional power generation would be in the same boat with existing transmission lines operating at or near capacity.
The transmission would pass over about 500 mi of public land, including 200 mi in Wyoming, according to the BLM.
The FEIS varies from its draft counterpart released in July 2011 in various points. It reroutes a segment in Wyoming to conform to Gov. Matt Mead’s executive sage-grouse order, changes timelines, drops a proposed 230-kV spur to the Aeolus substation near Medicine Bow and makes many other substantial changes.
The executive summary said the impacts of the line could vary across the board.
“For many resources, the effects of Gateway West, when combined with the effects of other known projects, would not be cumulatively substantial,” the summary reads. “In other cases, although the effects of Gateway West would be minor, when taken together with effects of other past, present and proposed future actions, many of which collectively already present a substantial cumulative effect, the cumulative impact may be considerable. Finally, there are some effects of Gateway West that would by themselves be large and, when considered with other effects, also be cumulatively substantial.”
The project has experienced more than three years of delays, but that hasn’t stopped the companies from trying to get the line they see as important for generation growth in the ground.
“We remain cautiously optimistic about our projects here in Wyoming,” said Rita Meyer, vice president of Rocky Mountain Power in February.
According to Rocky Mountain Power’s website, the line may be in service by 2018 after ongoing permitting and right-of-way efforts until 2015.
The public can review and comment on the FEIS for the Gateway West transmission line until Friday, June 28. The availability of the FEIS also initiates a 30-day protest period on the proposed land use plan amendments associated with the proposed project, which closes on Monday, May 27.
Comments on the FEIS may be made to the BLM via the project website at: www.wy.blm.gov/nepa/cfodocs/gateway_west, via the project e-mail address ([email protected]) or in writing to BLM, Gateway West Project, P.O. Box 20879, Cheyenne, WY 82003.