GLENROCK, Wyo. – Rocky Mountain Power is scaling back transmission line plans in southeast Wyoming, cutting one line and eliminating some controversial routes.
The company announced Thursday it would eliminate one of two proposed 230-kilovolt lines running between substations near Glenrock and Medicine Bow, and cut routes past Glenrock and one skirting the Shirley Basin and the Laramie Range.
At a meeting with local leaders and media in Glenrock, Rocky Mountain Power officials said the company had determined it didn’t need the additional capacity as part of its Gateway West expansion project and was responding to local concerns.
“Nobody’s thrilled to have a transmission line in their backyard, so it’s not surprising we’ve received a lot of concerns, a lot of comments,” said Mark Tallman, vice president of renewable resource acquisition for PacifiCorp, Rocky Mountain Power’s parent company.
Rita Meyer, Rocky Mountain Power’s newly hired vice president for Wyoming, told the group the company will continue with its plan to rebuild an existing 230-kilovolt line between the two substations.
It still intends to add another 230-kilovolt line along the route of the existing line.
Linda Care, the mayor of Glenrock, said she was happy about the company’s decision. One potential path for the scrapped line would have cut between Glenrock and Interstate 80 and might have hindered a 228-acre development with new homes and businesses in the city.
“I think for the people in Glenrock, it’s a very good thing,” she said.
The steering committee of the Northern Laramie Range Alliance, a group of landowners and others concerned about new development of the Laramie Range in the Glenrock and Douglas area, also said it supported the utility’s decision.
The group has opposed wind energy developments south of Glenrock, and some of its membership was concerned about a large new power line skirting the Laramie Range to the east before cutting south to the substation in the Medicine Bow area.
“We’re very pleased with Rocky Mountain Power’s decision to keep Gateway West in the existing corridor between Glenrock and Medicine Bow,” the committee said in an email to the Star-Tribune. “It’s an excellent example of a major company willing to hear public concerns and work constructively with citizen groups such as ours, in an open and transparent process.”
In a media release, Rocky Mountain Power said the decision was made based on “continued assessment of the transmission project objectives, the availability of resources throughout the company’s system and finding the best balance between cost and risk for customers.”
Asked by the Star-Tribune if that statement indicated the company didn’t expect to build new wind farms in the high-wind-rich area, Tallman said the company will still aim to meet its customers’ power needs, but “it’ll come from elsewhere.”
The Gateway West project is part of Portland, Ore.-based PacifiCorp’s $6 billion Gateway Energy initiative, a project to open up chokeholds on an electricity transmission system now straining to keep up with growing demand among the utility’s 1.7 million customers in six states, including Wyoming.
The company expects the Gateway West portion of the project will be completed in phases between 2015 and 2019.
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