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Report on impact of transmission line project due this summer

Plans by two electric utilities to build 1,150 miles of new high-voltage transmission lines across southern Idaho and Wyoming are on schedule, with a draft environmental impact statement on the work expected late this summer. ...Idaho Power began work on a series of environmental studies that will provide crucial information for the draft document.

Plans by two electric utilities to build 1,150 miles of new high-voltage transmission lines across southern Idaho and Wyoming are on schedule, with a draft environmental impact statement on the work expected late this summer.

The nearly $2 billion Gateway West Transmission Line Project will connect a planned Rocky Mountain Power substation in eastern Wyoming with Idaho Power's Hemingway substation near Murphy. With parts operational by 2014, it's intended to expand the transmission capabilities of the two states at a time when power crunches are common.

Just this month, Idaho Power began work on a series of environmental studies that will provide crucial information for the draft document, Doug Dockter, the utility's engineering lead for large transmission-line projects, said Wednesday during a visit to the Times-News. The draft is being compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, serving as the lead federal agency examining the project.

At the same time, the utilities are continuing outreach efforts to the local landowners who sit along the proposed path of the line, Dockter said. Those efforts included a "cordial, very productive meeting" earlier this month hosted by Twin... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Plans by two electric utilities to build 1,150 miles of new high-voltage transmission lines across southern Idaho and Wyoming are on schedule, with a draft environmental impact statement on the work expected late this summer.

The nearly $2 billion Gateway West Transmission Line Project will connect a planned Rocky Mountain Power substation in eastern Wyoming with Idaho Power's Hemingway substation near Murphy. With parts operational by 2014, it's intended to expand the transmission capabilities of the two states at a time when power crunches are common.

Just this month, Idaho Power began work on a series of environmental studies that will provide crucial information for the draft document, Doug Dockter, the utility's engineering lead for large transmission-line projects, said Wednesday during a visit to the Times-News. The draft is being compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, serving as the lead federal agency examining the project.

At the same time, the utilities are continuing outreach efforts to the local landowners who sit along the proposed path of the line, Dockter said. Those efforts included a "cordial, very productive meeting" earlier this month hosted by Twin Falls County landowners, he said, as well as one last month in American Falls that resulted in some changes to the project's route.

The utilities hope to gather as much public feedback as they can this spring so any route adjustments or alternate proposals can be evaluated in the BLM report. The general route of the transmission lines runs through all six counties of the Magic Valley, but the two-mile-wide study area will eventually shrink to only 300-foot-wide rights-of-way that can be shifted to avoid homes, businesses and wildlife.

"We don't have a center line that's set in stone," Dockter said.

The environmental studies should help the project avoid winter ranges for elk and visually sensitive areas like the Oregon Trail. The lines will also stay more than three-fifths of a mile away from sage-grouse breeding areas.

The federal government is expected to decide in the next few months whether to add the grouse to the endangered species list.

"If they do get listed, I think we're adequately covered," Dockter said.

Some Magic Valley residents have shared their concerns about what high-voltage lines can do to human and animal health. But Dockter argued that any effects are negligible at best - including from electromagnetic fields that are harmful at high levels. It's not clear what effects, if any, low-level exposure has on the human body, according to federal and global health organizations.

"A lot of people use that as a scare tactic," Dockter said, noting the research.


Source: http://www.magicvalley.com/...

MAR 29 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/19615-report-on-impact-of-transmission-line-project-due-this-summer
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