As part of President Obama's comprehensive strategy for transforming the nation's electric grid and spurring the development of renewable energy, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced approval of the majority of the proposed Gateway West Transmission Line Project, a 990-mile, high-voltage line that will provide up to 1,500 megawatts of transmission capacity in southern Wyoming and southern Idaho.
"Gateway West is a high priority project of the President's power infrastructure initiative -- a common‐sense approach that is speeding job creation in the near-term while spurring the economy and increasing the nation's competitiveness in the long-term," said Jewell. "The line will strengthen the Western grid, bringing a diversified portfolio of renewable and conventional energy to meet the region's projected growth in electricity demand."
Gateway West is one of seven priority projects of the Obama Administration's Rapid Response Team for Transmission, which aims to improve the overall quality and timeliness of electric transmission infrastructure permitting. When built, these projects will help increase electric reliability, integrate new renewable energy into the grid, and save consumers money. In particular, the Gateway West project expects to tap into the abundant wind energy resources that are being developed in this region of the country, such as in southern Wyoming.
Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power proposed the line as 10 segments originating at the Windstar substation near Glenrock, Wyoming and terminating at the Hemingway substation near Melba, Idaho, 20 miles southwest of Boise.
As part of the Obama Administration's commitment to support responsible development of renewable energy and associated transmission infrastructure, the project underwent extensive environmental review, with the final environmental impact statement issued on April 26, 2013. With careful consideration of public comment, the BLM's preferred route was crafted to use existing transmission corridors and to avoid sensitive landscapes, such as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, Wilderness Study Areas, and crucial wildlife habitat, such as sage-grouse core areas.
The BLM has elected to approve eight of the ten segments (Segments 1 through 7 and 10), and for Segments 8 and 9 the BLM plans to defer a decision either to approve or deny until the BLM can conduct additional stakeholder outreach and public engagement. The approved segments are not dependent on Segments 8 and 9. Today's decision will allow the proponents to begin construction for only the approved segments once they meet all necessary conditions identified in the Right-of-Way grant. The BLM will work towards making a decision to approve or deny the two remaining segments.
"The BLM is committed to responsible siting of transmission projects to support a clean energy future for America," said BLM Principal Deputy Director Neil Kornze.