WAPA extends public comment period for Estes-to-Flatiron rebuild

The Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) has extended the public scoping period of the environmental impact statement (EIS) process for the project that will rebuild the Estes-to-Flatiron transmission lines and substation.

The agency announced Sept. 17 that, based on public requests, it would extend the scoping period through Oct. 19 to allow the public more opportunities to provide input on the project alternatives.

“Public comments received thus far requested more time to submit comments,” Tim Snowden of WAPA’s Natural Resources office said in a statement announcing the extension.

WAPA already extended the scoping period once to provide additional input. The original 90-day scoping period was extended to Aug. 31 following scoping meetings in Loveland and Estes Park, Colo., earlier in August.

The agency “wants to make sure interested participants have every opportunity in our expanded public participation process to provide informed comments before the draft environmental impact statement is developed,” according to the statement.

Three more public workshops have been scheduled for Loveland and Estes Park on Oct. 2, 3, and 4, to provide the public with more opportunities to provide input on the alternative development process for the draft EIS.

WAPA plans to replace approximately 32 miles of aging 115-kV line that follows two separate rights-of-way (ROW) between Estes Park and Flatiron Reservoir to the east.  The agency proposes consolidating the two existing lines onto a double-circuit line on one of the existing ROW paths, reducing the ROW miles by half.

The ROW that is abandoned will be restored to its original state, a WAPA spokesperson previously told TransmissionHub.

In addition to deciding which ROW path should be used for the new lines, some residents are concerned about the new towers, which would be slightly taller than the existing wooden poles. Other residents want the agency to consider proposals not currently on the table.

There is little question the update is needed as, according to WAPA, the existing power lines were placed in service in 1938 and 1953.

WAPA has said that upgrading these lines is necessary to comply with safety standards; ensure reliable and cost effective electricity in Estes Park, Loveland and along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains; and provide accessibility for maintenance and emergencies.

Comments from the workshops, as well as comments received since the scoping process for this EIS began April 17, will be considered in defining the scope of the EIS and alternative development process, WAPA said in its statement.