By Myrna Trauntvein
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the TransWest Express Transmission Project is ready for comment and a public meeting is being held at the Juab County Courthouse Cultural Hall, 160 North Main St. from 4-7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 20.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wyoming State Office and the Western Area Power Administration (Western) seek public input on the TransWest Express Transmission Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The public has until Monday, September 30, 2013 to review and comment on the draft EIS.
"Of the three power transmission line projects proposed to come through Salt Creek Canyon, this is the project which is the furthest along in the process," said McKnight.
The notice of availability of the document was published in the Federal Register on July 3, 2013, which started the 90-day comment period.
TransWest Express, LLC is proposing the TransWest Express Transmission Project, a 725-mile long extra-high voltage (EHV), direct current (DC) transmission line extending from south-central Wyoming to southern Nevada.
The planned transmission line is one of three that is proposed to be built in coming years in Juab County.
The project is intended to provide the transmission infrastructure and capacity necessary to deliver up to approximately 3,000 megawatts of electric power from renewable energy resources in south-central Wyoming to a substation hub in southern Nevada.
"Once a decision is made about right-of-way, then a Record of Decision is made," said McKnight.
A Record of Decision (ROD) in the United States is the formal decision document which is recorded for the public.
The BLM has also identified its preferred alignment for PacifiCorp's proposed Gateway South transmission line, connecting Wyoming renewable energy sources to a future substation in Juab County.
The preferred Gateway South route follows one of the Bureau of Land Management's preferences for TransWest Express.
The BLM and Western are co-led federal agencies for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for the TransWest project, and are working with cooperating agencies in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Nevada.
Members of the public, government agencies, and Tribes are encouraged to provide comment on the draft EIS during the 90-day public comment period.
The Draft EIS is available for downloading the BLM's project website at: www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/info/NEPA/documents/hdd/transwest.html and Western's project website at: http://go.usa.gov/YCeC.
Comments can be submitted to the BLM and Western during the public meetings, by email: TransWest_WYMail@blm.gov or by mail to: TransWest Express Project, Bureau of Land Management, P.O. Box 20678, Cheyenne, WY 82003.
The 90-day comment period includes 13 public meetings.
PacifiCorp (doing business as Rocky Mountain Power), a regulated public utility, has filed an application for a right-of-way (ROW) to construct, operate and maintain a 500 kV overhead, alternating current transmission line to cross public and private lands for the Energy Gateway South Transmission Line Project.
"The federal agency has designated a preferred route for the Energy Gateway South Transmission Line," said McKnight. "Now they need to do the EIS."
This project is a step behind the TransWest Express.
When completed, the project would transmit about 1,500 megawatts of electricity generated from renewable and thermal sources at planned facilities in Wyoming.
"The target date for the draft EIS is February 2014 so they are about eight months behind the TransWest project," said McKnight.
This transmission line comes through Salt Creek Canyon headed to Mona.
The project begins in south central Wyoming near Medicine Bow, at the planned Aeolus Substation, and traverses from northeast to southwest across northwestern Colorado to the planned Clover Substation near Mona.
The Zephyr Power Transmission Project is a proposed transmission line to connect the Pathfinder Renewable Wind Project, in eastern Wyoming, with communities in the southwestern U. S.
"This project is not as far along as the other two," said McKnight. "It is third in line."
This is the project that Nephi Mayor Mark Jones and Juab County Commission Chairman Chad Winn wrote a letter to the company about. In that letter, urged by residents' concerns, the company was requested to hold a meeting allowing public comment in a give-and-take forum rather than the public information meeting which had been held in the county.
Justin Seely, council member, asked if the city had received a reply to that request.
"We have not. They may be waiting for a preferred route designation," said McKnight.
The DATC-Zephyr Power Transmission Project is scheduled for NEPA review and permitting from mid-2013 through 2016 with construction set to begin in 2017.