BLM selects preferred alternatives for Gateway West

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently selected agency preferred alternatives for the route of the Gateway West transmission project proposed by Rocky Mountain Power and Idaho Power.

The announcement came after BLM considered route changes the developers submitted in February in conjunction with public comments on the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) released in March.

Gateway West, a proposed line between Glenrock, Wyo., and Melba, Idaho, that would include 300 miles of 230-kV lines and 800 miles of 500-kV lines, is intended to alleviate capacity constraints in the region, according to the project website.

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

With the release of the route alternatives, the project can move ahead in the review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

“We still need to get through the remainder of the NEPA process,” a spokesperson for the Gateway West project told TransmissionHub Oct. 4. “That includes the final environmental impact statement from BLM and a record of decision.”

At this time, BLM anticipates it will issue the EIS by spring 2013, a spokesperson for BLM’s Idaho office told TransmissionHub Oct. 4.

BLM selected the preferred route alternatives from several options for 10 route segments that were originally proposed by the developers.

“Initially, we did propose a line route,” the spokesperson said. “Through the NEPA process, we have held numerous public meetings and taken input from the public, and the BLM has taken input both from the public and a wide variety of other cooperating agencies to support the agency’s designation of these preferred alternatives.”

The Gateway West project website, along with a coordinating route map, outlines the following as BLM’s preferred alternatives for segments of the project:

Segment 1W(a)

The route segment was selected as proposed, including the substitution of Alternative 1E-A in the vicinity of Glenrock, Wyo.

Segment 1W(c)

The route segment was selected as proposed. The companies will pursue permitting of only one new 230-kV line for Segment 1W(a) and reconstruction of the existing line for Segment 1W(c). Segment 1W is in eastern Wyoming and would connect the Windstar substation (near Glenrock) to the Aeolus substation (near Medicine Bow).

Segment 2

The route segment was selected as proposed, including the substitution of alternative 2C as part of the Rocky Mountain Power and Idaho Power’s revised route in February 2012. Segment 2 crosses Carbon and Sweetwater counties.

Segment 3

The route segment was selected as proposed. Segment 3 is in south central Wyoming, crossing Sweetwater County.

Segment 4

The route segment was selected as proposed, including the substitution of alternative 4A as part of the Rocky Mountain Power and Idaho Power’s revised route in February 2012. Segment 4 is in southwest Wyoming crossing Sweetwater and Lincoln counties and southeastern Idaho crossing Bear Lake, Franklin and Bannock counties.

Segment 5

The route segment was selected as proposed along with alternative 5C. Segment 5 is in southeast Idaho crossing Bannock and Power counties. The agency preferred alternative follows the proposed route 5 northwest from the Populus substation and then deviates from the proposed route through the Fort Hall Indian Reservation.

Segment 6

The proposal for this segment upgrades an existing line that crosses Power, Blaine, Minidoka and Lincoln counties in south central Idaho from 345-kV to 500-kV.

Segment 7

The route segment was selected as proposed, along with alternatives 7B, 7C, 7D, and 7G. The proposed route in the East Hills and alternative 7G will be micro-sited to avoid Idaho’s Preliminary Priority Habitat (PPH) for the sage-grouse. Segment 7 is in south central Idaho, crossing Bannock, Power, Oneida, Cassia and Twin Falls counties.

Segment 8

The route segment was selected as proposed, along with alternative 8B. Segment 8 is in southwestern Idaho, north of the Snake River, crossing Lincoln, Gooding, Elmore, Ada and Canyon counties. The agency preferred alternative follows the proposed Segment 8 northwest out of the Midpoint Substation and follows alternative route 8B into the Hemingway Substation.

Segment 9

Proposed Route and Alternative 9E, modified to avoid PPH. Segment 9 is in southwestern Idaho, south of the Snake River, crossing Lincoln, Gooding, Elmore, Ada and Canyon counties.

Segment 10

The agency preferred alternative coincides with the proposed Southwest Intertie Project alignment. Segment 10 is in south central Idaho crossing Twin Falls and Lincoln counties.