TransWest inching closer to transmission line construction through Moffat County
February 17, 2019
A massive proposed electric infrastructure project that could bring 3,000 megawatts of wind-generated energy across Wyoming, Moffat County, Utah, and Nevada is on the Moffat County Board of County Commissioners’ agenda this week.
TransWest Express, LLC's project has been some nine years in the making, but now, TransWest has submitted its application for a conditional use permit to the BOCC.
In December 2016, Bureau of Land Management sought to regulate some of the inventoried federal lands underneath the proposed transmission line. Moffat County later objected in a December letter to the BLM’s board of directors, arguing that BLM does not have the authority to require mitigation in these lands, because, though they have been inventoried as Lands with Wilderness Characteristics, the areas have not undergone the BLM's land use planning process.
According to TransWest's application, the company is currently in the midst of "updating engineering design and completing private right-of-way acquisition."
The application says the project will require approximately 3,504 acres of federal, state, and private land in Moffat County, involving some 22 private landowners.
TransWest says it is trying to work with these landowners before taking their land by other means.
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"Although TransWest intends and desires to work collaboratively with landowners to negotiate mutually agreeable terms for the right to use the land, easements can be acquired through eminent domain (condemnation) proceedings, if necessary," TransWest wrote in its conditional use permit application.
In a January interview, Jerry Hoberg, Moffat County’s planner and airport manager, said even if TransWest’s conditional use permit is approved by county commissioners, TransWest will still have to secure agreements with the private landowners before construction of the transmission line can begin.
“If they don’t get property owners’ approval, the conditional use permit won’t mean anything,” Hoberg said
If the conditional use permit is approved during Tuesday’s BOCC meeting, it will be at least another year before TransWest hopes to begin construction in 2020, with a proposed completion slated for 2022.
TransWest says residents in Craig and Moffat County will see benefits almost immediately from increased "employment and expenditures, property taxes, and increased sales and use tax revenue," which TransWest estimates will be about $1.3 million in the project's first year.
"Over the estimated 50-year life of the project, TransWest will pay about $31.4 million in property taxes in the aggregate," the application said. "This will make the TWE project one of the largest property tax payers in Moffat County."
Eleanor C. Hasenbeck contributed to this report. Contact Clay Thorp at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.