CHEYENNE, Wyo. – A detailed federal review of a proposed $3 billion power line that would run through Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and Nevada and deliver power to the Southwest will be delayed about six months, a Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman said.
The project’s size and the multiple states involved have made for a complicated review process that aims to find the best route for the transmission line, BLM spokeswoman Beverly Gorny said.
TransWest Express LLC, a subsidiary of the Anschutz Corp., wants to build the 725-mile line to provide power generated mostly from renewable wind energy sources in Wyoming to about 1.8 million homes in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada.
The BLM and the Western Area Power Administration are jointly overseeing a review that analyzes the myriad issues associated with crossing many public and private lands.
Under the project’s initial timeline, the agencies were to have issued a draft plan for the project about now. But Gorny said that draft is now expected sometime in the spring of next year.
Gorny said the delay is necessary to review newly proposed alternative routes that have come up during the process of trying to identify where the line should go.
“They’re just adding alternatives to avoid special areas or to address certain concerns of each area,” she said. “For example, in Wyoming, it’s sage grouse. I think in other states there’s similar things to sage grouse.”
TransWest Express spokeswoman Kara Choquette said Friday that even with the delay, the timeline for getting a final decision on whether the project will go forward is still in 2014.
“We continue to anticipate the TWE project will be in service delivering high-capacity Wyoming wind energy to desert Southwest markets well ahead of California and other states’ renewable portfolio standards deadlines,” Choquette said.
California is requiring utilities to get one-third of their power from renewable sources by the end of 2020.
The TransWest Express is part of a federal initiative that aims to speed up permitting and construction of such renewable energy projects. Gorny said the priority initiative has worked as intended in the case of TransWest Express.
“What the priority was about was to make sure all the right players came to the table timely, and that has happened,” she said.
The six-month delay would have happened with or without the federal initiative, she said.