Powerline route covers 1,100 miles

Nov 25, 2011
by WLJ

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is reviewing comments submitted by hundreds of individuals and groups about a proposed $2 billion highvoltage power line in Wyoming and Idaho.

The Gateway West transmission line would add over 1,100 miles of new high-voltage transmission powerlines across southern Idaho and southern Wyoming.

BLM has released the draft environmental impact statement for the project, proposed by Idaho Power Company and Rocky Mountain Power.

BLM received 350 to 400 comments by the Oct. 28 deadline.

The comments varied from being supportive and hopeful that the line will create jobs, to being concerned about its impact on property owners and their views of the skyline, BLM spokeswoman Beverly Gorny said.

“They were what we anticipated for the most part,” Gorny said.

BLM will study the comments and propose a preferred route from among the alternatives offered so far. There will be another comment period before BLM makes a final decision.

“That won’t likely happen until next summer or fall because it takes that long to write the final document taking into consideration these comments,” Gorny said.

One of the groups that submitted comments was the Northern Laramie Range Alliance, which includes prominent Wyoming landowners and businesspeople. They oppose one of the proposed routes through and next to the Laramie Range in southeast Wyoming.

Sharon Rodeman, a landowner and member of the group, said there is a proposed loop that crosses her land even though there is an existing power line corridor that Gateway West could follow.

“It’s getting pushed on us because they can’t go into the core sage grouse area; they could, but it’s not beneficial,” Rodeman said.

Rocky Mountain Power spokeswoman Margaret Oler said that the company has been working with the Northern Laramie Range Alliance on the plan.

The company proposed the route off the current power line corridor not only to avoid sage grouse areas but to bring the proposed line closer to potential wind farm development, Oler said.

In addition, placing the line in a different area would provide a backup line in case another line goes down because of weather or some other reason, she said.

“You’ve got some separation between lines so that, if possible, you can then reroute power over a different line to keep people in service while you’re repairing the damaged line,” Oler said.

The line would run from a proposed substation near Glenrock to a substation to be built near Melba, ID. It would carry between 230,000 and 500,000 volts. — WLJ