Idaho's Gateway West Power Line Moves Closer To Reality

Feb 2, 2016

The Bureau of Land Management says it’s close to releasing its Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, on the last two segments of the Gateway West Project. That means the creation of the 990 mile long power line across Idaho and Wyoming is one step closer to construction.

The power line would run from Glenrock, Wyoming to Melba, southwest of Boise. The project, put together by Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power, has been in the works for several years. The companies say the new line is needed to meet increasing customer needs.

The BLM has adopted a phased-in approach to the project.  That means some segments of the power line were approved, while other, more controversial segments were held back for more consideration.

In November of 2013, the BLM signed off on eight of the ten segments of the power line. That left two segments, both in Idaho, which needed more study.

The EIS was supposed to come out in September of 2015 but several issues came up for consideration by the BLM for the last two segments. They include:

  1. Impact to historic trails
  2. Impact to sage grouse and the bird’s habitat
  3. Impact on the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area
  4. Impacts from last summer’s Soda Fire

Now the EIS will be released this spring. When it comes out, the BLM will only allow 90 days for public review and comment. BLM officials stress, due to time constraints on the project, they will not be able to extend the comment period. So they are encouraging everyone interested in Gateway West to keep informed on the project’s progress. The BLM will hold at least four public meetings, once the comment period is underway.

Alternative routes to the original plan by Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power are being studied by the BLM and will be analyzed in detail in the EIS.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

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