TransWest Express project receives fast track designation

The federal government has awarded fast track designation status for a proposed power line project expected to pass through Moffat County.

TransWest Express announced Oct. 5 that its 600 kV, 725-mile direct current transmission line project is one of seven picked by the “Rapid Response Team for Transmission” to accelerate and coordinate permitting processes.

The RRTT is led by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The transmission line will run from Rawlins, Wyo., pass through Moffat County along Seven Mile Ridge and end in Las Vegas.

In a joint resolution with officials in Carbon and Sweetwater counties in Wyoming, the Moffat County Commission approved July 6 the Seven Mile Ridge route.

Construction is scheduled to begin July 1, 2014 in Rawlins and conclude July 1, 2017 in Las Vegas.

High-capacity wind farms in Wyoming will provide power for the 3,000-megawatt transmission line.

“The RRTT selection highlights the TWE project’s importance to the overall grid, its economic and environmental benefits, and its ability to create and sustain competitive, cost-effective energy for consumers in California and other states,” said Bill Miller, president and CEO of TransWest Express LLC, in a news release. “The RRTT program is another thoughtful and strategic example of how the federal government can further the country’s energy and land use goals by supporting private investment and addressing the regulatory complexities associated with large infrastructure development.”

According to the release, TransWest Express expects the project to create 1,550 direct construction jobs during the three-year building period, plus an additional 5,000 to 9,000 indirect jobs nationwide.

“This is the kind of critical infrastructure we should be working together to advance in order to create jobs and move our nation toward energy independence,” said Ken Salazar, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, in a news release.

According to the TransWest Express release, approximately 60 percent of the proposed route crosses federal land.

To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, an Environmental Impact Statement must be prepared before construction can get under way.

“The TWE project already is advanced in the federal Environmental Impact Statement process,” Miller said in the news release. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with the federal agencies under this new streamlined process.”

Kara Choquette, director of communications for TransWest Express, said a draft EIS is scheduled to be released in 2012.

“The draft Environmental Impact Statement is currently planned for release in 2012, with a final EIS and Record of Decision expected by the end of 2013 or early 2014,” Choquette said. “We are optimistic that this new team can help advance those dates and move the project sooner to the construction and jobs creation phase.”

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