Moffat County Commission meets with Carbon, Sweetwater reps | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County Commission meets with Carbon, Sweetwater reps

The Moffat County Commission traveled Wednesday to Rawlins, Wyo., to meet with the Carbon and Sweetwater county commissioners, and discuss plans for two high voltage power transmission lines and the impact the projects could have on the adjoining areas of Northwest Colorado and south central Wyoming.

The power line projects are proposed to run west from locations in Carbon County, crossing over into the other two counties.

The first line, overseen by TransWest Express, will be a 600-kilovolt direct current line running a proposed 725 miles from a station south of Sinclair, Wyo., to a power hub in Boulder City, Nev.

The second is the Gateway South Transmission Line, in development by Rocky Mountain Power/PacifiCorp, a 500-kilovolt alternating current line planned to run 400 miles from a planned substation near Medicine Bow, Wyo., to a second substation located near Mona, Utah.

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray said the groups looked at several different possible routes through which the projects would cross state lines.

"We need to see which routes would affect residential areas and private property," he said. "We also don't want them to have a negative impact on the sage grouse area population. Those were our two main concerns."

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Carbon County Commissioner Terry Weickum, of Rawlins, said the meeting allowed he and his fellow county representatives to get a scope of the concerns of people south of the Wyoming-Colorado border.

"You can't learn about the sage grouse issue by just looking at a map," he said. "I can't pick the proper route to go through Moffat County and vice-versa, so by them bringing that to light, it helped us in our understanding."

Weickum added that he was pleased the Moffat County Commission initiated the meeting.

"This is a perfect example of the kind of projects that we do that can affect our neighbors, and I look forward to meeting again on how to best serve our communities," he said. "The very best way to solve any problem is with communication."

Gray agreed that the meeting was successful.

"It was very beneficial for everyone to hear each other's comments," Gray said.

Gray said the gathering of commissioners had "reached a consensus" on what the best possible route for the transmission lines would be, but a final decision is pending.

"We don't want to go jumping ahead of the Land Use Board," he said.

The project routes will be a point of discussion during the Moffat County Land Use Board's June 13 meeting at the Moffat County Courthouse.

Kara Choquette, director of communications for TransWest, said both companies will be "implementing conservation measures" for wildlife such as the sage grouse population.

"Everything has an impact and we're looking at the best way to work around it," Choquette said.

Choquette said that a first draft of the Environmental Impact Statement required for the project will be available by the end of 2012. After public commentary on that version, a final draft will be drawn up and tentatively available by 2013.

Only after the EIS has been approved can the companies begin construction.

Choquette said the soonest the transmission lines will likely be in service is 2016.

"We're pretty early in the process now," she said.

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