TRANSWEST EXPRESS PUBLIC HEARING • More than 50 reisdents attended the public hearing last Tuesday at the Senior Citizens center on the project in Juab County
By Myrna Trauntvein
More than 50 residents of Juab County attended a public meeting/hearing held to take comment on the TransWest Express Transmission Project.
Many posters around the room displayed key Draft EIS information.
The computers and maps in the middle of the room allowed people to look more closely at specific parcels.
In attendance to answer questions representing TransWest Express, LLC were: Kara Choquette, Director of Communication, Joseph Tippetts, assistant general counsel (originally from Mapleton) and David Smith, director of engineering.
BLM Project Manager, Sharon Knowlton, was in attendance.
The Western Area Power Administration Project Manager is Steve Blazek.
Other staff members were from BLM, from Western, and from the federal agencies' environmental contractor.
A court reporter was also present to meet Western's requirements to conduct a public hearing as part of the Draft EIS meeting.
"The court reporter officially recorded comments from attendees directed to the federal agencies," said Choquette. "Western estimates that 'many' of the estimated 50 attendees talked to the court reporter over the course of the evening."
Nephi Mayor Mark Jones and council member Justin Seely also attended as did Juab County Commissioner Byron Woodland.
"The mayor and I both gave comments to the court recorder," said Seely. "The mayor was there looking out for the interests of Nephi City."
Jones said that he made certain that the viewpoint of city government and city residents regarding power transmission lines in the area were represented.
"I can't speak as TransWest as to what the official comments are to BLM and Western, but what I heard was support for the route that went south of Nephi, not the Northern route," said Choquette.
"Regarding Nephi Canyon, we heard from people who said they lived in that area that they were OK with the TWE Project as long as it stayed on the southern edge of the corridor, which we are glad to do," she said.
The TransWest Express Transmission Project is a high-voltage, direct current regional electric transmission system proposed by TransWest Express LLC.
The TWE Project is to deliver cost-effective renewable energy produced in Wyoming to the Desert Southwest region (California, Nevada, Arizona).
Under development since 2005, the transmission line is anticipated to begin construction in 2014.
"Remember, the two-mile-wide corridor is just a study corridor," said Choquette, "the TWE Project will be sited in a way that responds to local concerns within the corridor selected. The final right-of-way will be just 250 feet wide for our project."
Meetings were held in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Nevada to allow the public to review the Draft EIS in person, talk to experts and provide comments to BLM/Western for their consideration as they prepare the Final EIS. The 13 public meetings, which begin August 14 in Rawlins, Wyo., will end September 6 in St. George, Utah.
The TWE Project is a proposed 600 kilovolt direct current transmission line that will provide up to 3,000 megawatts of capacity. It is designed to deliver about 20,000 gigawatt-hours per year of clean and sustainable energy generated in Wyoming to utilities in California, Nevada and Arizona that need cost-effective supplies of renewable power.
The three-year construction will create 1,000+ jobs each year with a $3 billion estimated cost.
"The Draft EIS comment period is open until September 30," said Choquette. "The BLM and Western materials also will be posted to their website soon, I understand."
All of the materials that TransWest shared at the meeting are available at www.transwestexpress.net<http://www.transwestexpress.net>.
"We have had comments from some residents that there are too many lines scheduled for Nephi (Salt Creek) Canyon," said Choquette.
She said that people who had comments they would like to be part of the record had approximately one month left to make those comments known.
Comments for BLM's and Western's consideration may be submitted by attending a meeting, sending an email to TransWest_WYMail@blm.gov or by mailing comments to: Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming State Office
TransWest Express Transmission Project, P.O. Box 20678, Cheyenne, WY 82003.
"The other proposed transmission projects planned to come into Juab County that are not as far advanced in the permitting process will need to address those concerns at the appropriate time in their development process," said Choquette.
The approximately 2,000-page printed Draft EIS document for the TWE Project was prepared by the Bureau of Land Management and Western Area Power Administration as joint lead federal agencies.
It results from more than four years of environmental analysis, public input and collaboration among more than 50 federal, state and local cooperating agencies.
The report informs the public of various factors associated with this new transmission line, including its potential ecological, aesthetic, cultural, economic and social effects. The draft report also identifies an agency preferred alternative route from south-central Wyoming, through northwest Colorado and central Utah, and through southeastern Nevada before the route terminates at the Eldorado Valley electric power complex near Hoover Dam.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement is scheduled for release in 2014.
"This is a major milestone in the NEPA process, and we hope people read the Draft EIS and provide comments," said Western Administrator Mark Gabriel. "We are here to help strengthen the energy highway by connecting communities with reliable power and renewable generation. The results of the final NEPA review and other analyses will guide us when we decide whether to continue to participate in the project beyond the development phase."
Western is authorized to contribute up to $25 million of its $3.25 billion borrowing authority for the project development phase, which includes the environmental review and other technical feasibility studies.
About two-thirds of TransWest's 725-mile proposed route for the TWE Project is sited on federal land, primarily managed by BLM and the U.S. Forest Service, and follows designated utility corridors and existing transmission when possible to minimize the project's environmental footprint.