Overview map of TransWest Express Project
The Bureau of Land Management announced the publication of the TransWest Express Transmission Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement July 3. The release of the Draft EIS begins a 90-day public comment period that will include thirteen public meetings hosted by Western and the BLM scheduled throughout the project area. The Draft EIS and schedule of public meetings are available on BLM’s TranWest Express Project website.
Western’s Administrator Mark Gabriel said, “This is a major milestone in the NEPA process, and we hope people read the draft EIS and provide comments. We [Western] are here to help strengthen the energy highway by connecting communities with reliable power and renewable generation. The results of the final NEPA review and other analyses will guide us when we decide whether to continue to participate in the project beyond the development phase.”
The TransWest Express Transmission Project is a proposed 725 mile, 600-kV direct current transmission line that may provide up to 3,000 MW of capacity. The line would extend from south central Wyoming, to the El Dorado Valley south of Las Vegas, Nevada, and would facilitate the delivery of Wyoming wind generation resources to load centers in Nevada, Arizona, and California.
Western is proposing to participate as a joint owner of the TWE Project; a decision on whether to be a joint owner will be made when the development phase is complete. Western is authorized to contribute up to $25 million of its $3.25
billion borrowing authority for the project development phase, which includes the environmental review and other technical feasibility studies.
House Resolution 2915, which proposes to repeal Western’s Transmission Infrastructure Program’s $3.25 billion borrowing authority from the U.S. Treasury, passed the House of Representatives Committee of Natural Resources with no amendments Oct. 5 with a 26-17 straight party-line vote.
While the three projects currently approved to use the borrowing authority – TransWest Express (development phase), Electrical District 5 – Palo Verde Hub and the Montana Alberta Tie, Limited – would not be impacted by the bill’s passage, no other projects being considered would receive funding.
“New transmission is urgently needed in the western United States. And yet, getting lines in the air has been far too slow over the past few decades,” said Lauren Azar, senior advisor to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, in a written testimony for a Sept. 22 hearing with the Subcommittee on Water and Power. “Western’s $3.25 billion of permanent, indefinite, borrowing authority is, therefore, a critical tool for addressing two of the major energy challenges we now face in the West — the need for additional transmission infrastructure and integration of renewables onto the grid.”
The bill will now be considered in the full House.
TIP’s borrowing authority constructs or upgrades transmission infrastructure within Western’s 15-state service area that has the reasonable expectation of helping deliver renewable generation to customers and is in the public interest.
The Department of Energy announced, Oct. 5, seven transmission projects chosen by President Obama’s administration for accelerated permitting and constructing by the newly-formed Rapid Response Team for Transmission, which brings together nine agencies to expedite and improve the coordination of necessary Federal approvals for building transmission.
One of the chosen projects, TransWest Express, is currently being funded partially by Western’s Transmission Infrastructure Program’s borrowing authority. Western will provide $25 million, or 50 percent, for the development phase to determine the technical feasibility of building the project.
“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.
About Rapid Response Team for Transmission
The agencies included in the team are the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Electric Regulatory Commission, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
A major milestone for the TransWest Express Transmission Project was reached Friday as the Western Area Power Administration and TransWest Express LLC announced an agreement to fund the project’s $50 million development phase.
The TWE Project development phase will determine the feasibility of constructing and operating a 725-mile, 600-kilovolt, direct current transmission line that would facilitate renewable energy delivery from Wyoming to the southwestern United States. The project would interconnect with the existing transmission grid near Rawlins, Wyo., and the Marketplace Hub, near Las Vegas, Nev.
Western’s Transmission Infrastructure Program will use its U.S. Treasury borrowing authority under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act amendement to the Hoover Power Plant Act of 1984 to fund 50 percent of the development phase. TWE , LLC will fund the other $25 million.
The press release in its entirety can be read in Western’s online Newsroom.