BLM issues final EIS for proposed 345-kV project in southwestern Utah

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for the proposed Sigurd to Red Butte 345-kV transmission project in southwestern Utah.

PacifiCorp, d/b/a Rocky Mountain Power, is proposing the single-circuit transmission line that will run from the existing Sigurd substation near Richfield, Utah, to the existing Red Butte substation near the community of Central, about 170 miles to the southwest. The project will also include installation of new substation equipment to interconnect the project with the existing substations.

The Sigurd to Red Butte line is also known as segment G of the Energy Gateway transmission project.

“This proposed project will strengthen Utah’s energy corridors and provide pathways for future electrical transmission lines that will help relieve congestion, improve reliability and enhance the national electric grid,” BLM’s Utah Director Juan Palma said in a statement announcing the FEIS. The project will also allow for access to potential sources of renewable energy.

The line will cost approximately $400m, according to TransmissionHub data, though actual cost will depend on the route selected. The project will provide about 600 MW of capacity to meet anticipated load growth in southwestern Utah when it is completed. The line is expected to be in service by the end of June 2015.

According to the Western Electricity Coordinating Council’s (WECC) project web site, the line is needed “to provide reliable to network load” and “to meet open-access transmission tariff obligations such as point-to-point service, or committed firm transmission service.”

Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), BLM is the designated lead federal agency for preparation of the draft EIS, which was published in May 2011, as well as the FEIS. Federal law makes BLM responsible for responding to applications for right-of-way on BLM-administered lands.

The FEIS evaluates, analyzes, and discloses to the public the direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental impacts of implementing the proposed project. The FEIS also includes the written and verbal comments received during the public review period on the draft EIS and responses to those comments.

Agencies with legal jurisdiction or special expertise were invited to participate as cooperating agencies. The U.S. Forest Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, the state of Utah, five Utah counties and two cities took part.

The 30-day review period for the FEIS ends Nov. 4. While the review period is not a formal comment period, agencies and members of the public can submit comments on the FEIS. Those comments will be considered prior to a decision on the proposed action.