The Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) on Dec. 5 announced the selection of an agency preferred alternative for the environmental review of the Estes-to-Flatiron Transmission Lines Rebuild Project in Colorado.
The project involves rebuilding two transmission lines between the Estes substation and the Flatiron substation, west of Loveland, Colo., WAPA said. The selected route would consolidate the two 60-plus-year-old transmission lines into a single, double circuit power line that would mostly follow the rights of way (ROWs) of the existing lines to minimize environmental impacts, WAPA said.
According to the project’s website, WAPA proposes to rebuild about 32 miles of double wood-pole structure 115-kV transmission line that exists between Estes Park and Flatiron Reservoir in Larimer County, Colo. The proposal would remove 16 miles of transmission line, and modernize 16 miles to steel-pole double-circuit 115-kV transmission line, WAPA said, adding that the reduction and modernizing of transmission lines would occur on federal, state and private lands. The public parcels are administered by the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest, which is a cooperating agency in the project, and concurred on the agency preferred alternative selection, according to WAPA.
According to the website, the proposed project would rebuild aging and deteriorating transmission lines; reduce the number of linear miles of transmission corridors and the associated environmental footprint; ensure that the transmission lines comply with applicable codes and requirements; reduce potential for disruption of customer service due to wildfire hazards; and improve access for maintenance and emergencies.
WAPA said in its statement that in 2017, it anticipates releasing – in compliance with the NEPA – the final environmental impact statement (EIS), which will provide an updated analysis of the alternatives and a description of the selected route.
After evaluating eight alternatives in the draft EIS, WAPA said that it considered public input and further divided each alternative into three separate regions – east, central and west – and from that analysis, WAPA selected the best route for each region:
- East region (closer to Loveland) – Alternative B uses existing ROW on the southern line, while avoiding difficult terrain and new ROW associated with other alternatives
- Central region – A combination of Alternatives B and C would be used, generally locating the alignment closer to Pole Hill Road
- West region (closer to Estes Park) – A modified version of Alternative C was selected because this route best uses existing ROW, while minimizing visual impact to the project area. It also avoids difficult terrain associated with other alternatives. The modification of this alternative would not reconstruct West Pole Hill Road to minimize impact to off-highway vehicle enthusiasts and recreational activity
WAPA said that it will prepare a record of decision regarding the project no earlier than 30 days after the final EIS has been released to the public.