BLM releases public comments on Gateway West project

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on March 2 released over 2,600 pages of public comments on the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the Gateway West transmission project.

BLM, the lead federal agency on the project, received 375 submissions containing 2,600 different comments, which an agency official said were fewer than anticipated.

“I would attribute the somewhat low number of comments to the fact that people recognize we’re working with them,” project manager Walt George told TransmissionHub on March 8. 

George said the DEIS scoping process, which began in 2008, included significant interaction with stakeholders and resulted in a document that reflected the concerns expressed by various local and state governments and interest groups.

“While there are concerns – and I wouldn’t want to minimize those concerns – people don’t seem to be frantic about the proposal or feel that something’s being pushed down their throats,” he said.

George said there was nothing in the comments that was unexpected.

“Many people support or oppose a particular alignment for various reasons,” he said, adding that resource issues were also frequently commented upon. “Avoiding sage grouse habitat, cultural sites, national historic trails, sensitive wildlife habitat…avoiding private property, visual impacts.”

BLM separated the comments into four categories to make searching the comments easier, George said. Comments made by government and tribal interests are grouped together, as are those submitted by businesses, individuals, and special-interest groups.

As planned, Gateway West is a 230-kV and 500-kV line originating at the Windstar Substation at Glenrock, Wyo., and the Hemingway Substation approximately 30 miles southwest of Boise, Idaho, spanning approximately 1,100 miles.

The line, proposed by Rocky Mountain Power and Idaho Power, will allow for the delivery of up to 3,000 MW of energy.

“I would hope the number of comments reflect the work that the various agencies have put in to making this the document that it’s supposed to be, which is a disclosure of impacts of the various choices for aligning the project,” George said.

Rocky Mountain Power is a subsidiary of PacifiCorp, and Idaho Power is a subsidiary of IDACORP (NYSE:IDA).