CASPER, Wyo – The Natrona County Commission approved a Conditional Use Permit for PacifiCorp to install a power transmission line across a portion of Natrona County at its regular meeting Tuesday, Jan 5.
The Gateway West project would construct 118 miles in new and rebuilt overhead transmission lines connecting two substations in Converse County (Dave Johnson and Windstar) to substations in Carbon County, crossing the southeast corner of Natrona.
PacicCorp, acting as Rocky Mountain Power, has been developing the project for 13 years. It is part of the company’s overall plan to develop 2,000 miles of transmission line in Wyoming and Idaho, including existing lines.
Chavis told Oil City News the company wanted to increase its transmission capability in anticipation of future solar and wind energy supplies and to meet growing demand.
The area is primarily in a Ranching, Agricultural and Mining (RAM) zone in Natrona County, and the The Natrona County Planning and Zoning Board found that rangeland activities could remain affected.
The zoning board on Dec. 8 approved the Development department’s findings and advanced them to the commission with some conditions, including that Rocky Mountain Power (RMP):
- obtain a utility license for each highway crossing and access permits for roads per the Wyoming Department of Transportation.
- follow Wyoming Game and Fish recommendations to consult with the BLM in the areas where the line would cross the Deer Creek Range, and to evaluate impacts to sage grouse populations.
- work with the county Road and Bridge Department to obtain permits and to return roads to their preexisting conditions after construction.
The commission also agreed to extend the typical one-year length of a Conditional Use Permit to January 2023, the project’s expected start date.
RMP must obtain permits and easements for the Gateway West Segment D-1 Transmission Line Project in each of the three counties and it is approaching each in phases.
“It’s been a fascinating journey getting federal permits and state permits,” project manager Rod Fisher told the commission Tuesday. He’s been managing the project since it launched in 2007. The project would cross Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, state, and private lands.
Fisher said obtaining the necessary federal permits for the Wyoming portion alone had taken eight years, and RMP was still arranging a hearing for approval with the Wyoming Public Service Commission.
Chavis said this lengthy process was likely why some landowners had told the county Planning and Zoning Board they were upset they hadn’t had contact with the company in some time.
One land owner “just didn’t want it on his property,” Chavis added.
Fisher said RMP has since consulted with private landowners and they were securing agreements.