Update: Publication of draft EIS delayed for TransWest Express

Contrary to the June 28 publication of the Notice of Availability (NoA) in the Federal Register, the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the TransWest Express transmission project will not be published until July 3, officials with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) told TransmissionHub July 1.

While the intent of personnel in BLM’s Wyoming field office had been to release the document June 28, a holdup elsewhere in the agency forced the five-day delay.

“It was only a minor hiccup, and [the EIS] should be available on July 3” on the BLM project website as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website, a BLM official said.

Despite premature publication of the NoA, interested parties will have a full 90 days to review the document and submit comments. The 90-day comment period mandated by NEPA will begin when the document is released and will end Sept. 30.

The draft EIS had previously been anticipated in the fall of 2012 but was delayed until the spring of 2013 so cooperating agencies could identify additional route alternatives that will address potential impacts on sensitive wildlife areas.

The proposed project consists of 725 miles of 600-kV HVDC transmission through parts of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Nevada to deliver up to 3,000 MW of Wyoming wind energy to Arizona, California and Nevada, and to improve reliability.

Developers TransWest Express and the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) will each contribute $25m to fund the development stage of the project. The total project cost is estimated at $3bn, according to TransmissionHub data.

BLM and WAPA are joint lead agencies for the project.

In October 2011, the TransWest project was selected by the Obama administration’s Rapid Response Team for Transmission for accelerated siting and permitting. 

The current schedule anticipates the release of a final EIS and subsequent record of decision in 2014, followed by the beginning of construction later the same year. Construction is expected to take three years and the project is scheduled to enter service in 2016.