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Concerns delay power line study

Mounting opposition from private landowners has prompted federal regulators to take an additional five to six months in the analysis of the Gateway West Transmission Line Project. The proposed high-voltage transmission line would span 1,150 miles from Glenrock to Melba, Idaho.

Mounting opposition from private landowners has prompted federal regulators to take an additional five to six months in the analysis of the Gateway West Transmission Line Project.

The proposed high-voltage transmission line would span 1,150 miles from Glenrock to Melba, Idaho.

The Bureau of Land Management announced Thursday it needs more time to work with stakeholders -- particularly local county officials -- on the question of whether the power line route should focus more on private or public lands.

"Almost uniformly, the issues with these counties are proposed routes on private land," BLM project manager Walt George said. "Looking back on it, we had held scoping meetings on it a year ago but the general public didn't really provide us with much input at that time."

A BLM statement issued Thursday said "reasonable alternatives" will be developed between now and Sept. 4, which will be analyzed in the draft Environmental Impact Statement for Gateway West. The draft analysis is now slated for release in June 2010.

Rocky Mountain Power and Idaho Power are partnered in the Gateway West transmission project, adding 3,000 megawatts worth of new electrical... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Mounting opposition from private landowners has prompted federal regulators to take an additional five to six months in the analysis of the Gateway West Transmission Line Project.

The proposed high-voltage transmission line would span 1,150 miles from Glenrock to Melba, Idaho.

The Bureau of Land Management announced Thursday it needs more time to work with stakeholders -- particularly local county officials -- on the question of whether the power line route should focus more on private or public lands.

"Almost uniformly, the issues with these counties are proposed routes on private land," BLM project manager Walt George said. "Looking back on it, we had held scoping meetings on it a year ago but the general public didn't really provide us with much input at that time."

A BLM statement issued Thursday said "reasonable alternatives" will be developed between now and Sept. 4, which will be analyzed in the draft Environmental Impact Statement for Gateway West. The draft analysis is now slated for release in June 2010.

Rocky Mountain Power and Idaho Power are partnered in the Gateway West transmission project, adding 3,000 megawatts worth of new electrical generation capacity in Wyoming.

One megawatt of wind-based electricity can power about 300 homes, whereas one megawatt of coal-based electricity can power about 750 homes.

Dozens of wind farm proposals have queued up to anchor the Gateway West line, as well as six other transmission projects aimed at adding some 15,000 megawatts of potential new electrical generation in Wyoming from future wind and coal facilities, according to the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority.

An application for Gateway West was first submitted to the BLM for approval in 2007, and public scoping meetings were held throughout the region last year. But in recent months, hundreds of private landowners organized raising concerns about specific segments of the proposed route.

George said the BLM and project developers will take extra time to work with citizens and county officials in five particular regions:

* Converse and Albany counties in Wyoming.

* Power County, Idaho.

* Cassia County, Idaho.

* Owyhee County, Idaho.

* City of Kuna, Idaho.

"Most of these groups are working to devise alternatives. That's one reason why we decided to take additional time to work with these groups to get some reasonable alternatives," George said Thursday in a phone interview.

Richard Walje, president of Rocky Mountain Power, said the utility supports the agency's decision.

"We remain committed to evaluating all reasonable options and are taking steps to address areas where consideration of additional alternatives may benefit the project and the public," Walje said in a prepared statement.

Additional meetings will be coordinated in local areas by the two utilities, local governments and interested groups. The utilities said they encourage the public to participate in the process and provide their comments directly to the BLM.


Source: http://casperstartribune.ne...

JUL 17 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/21246-concerns-delay-power-line-study
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