Obama administration announces grid modernization pilot projects

Washington, October 5, 2011 — The Obama administration announced it would accelerate the permitting and construction of seven proposed electric transmission lines.

These projects will serve as pilot demonstrations of streamlined federal permitting and increased cooperation at the federal, state and tribal levels. Project developers expect that the streamlined projects will increase grid capacity and create thousands of jobs in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Wisconsin.

Building electric transmission lines involves coordination among multiple federal, state, and tribal agencies subject to permitting, review and consultation. Improving the overall quality and timeliness of these procedures enables the federal government to help expedite new transmission lines.

Adding necessary transmission infrastructure will integrate renewable electricity sources into the grid, accommodate the growing number of electric vehicles on America's roads, help avoid blackouts, restore power more quickly when outages occur and reduce the need for new power plants.

In October 2009, nine federal entities including 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, signed a memorandum of understanding increasing their coordination to expedite and simplify building of transmission lines on federal lands.

Leveraging this interagency collaboration and expanding the scope of activity beyond federal lands, the administration's recently formed Rapid Response Team for Transmission, comprised of these same nine agencies, will accelerate responsible and informed deployment of these seven key transmission facilities.

Boardman-Hemingway Line powering Oregon and Idaho:

The new 500 kV transmission line proposed by Idaho Power would create an nearly 300 mile long, single-circuit electric transmission line from a proposed substation near Boardman, Oregon to the Hemingway Substation near Melba, Idaho — known as the Boardman to Hemingway Transmission Line Project or B2H Project. According to the developer of this project during peak construction, this project is estimated to create about 500 jobs in Idaho and Oregon.

Gateway West Project to bring new transmission across Wyoming and Idaho:

Jointly proposed by Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power, this project would add about 1,150 miles of new, high-voltage transmission lines between the Windstar Substation near Glenrock, Wyoming and the Hemingway Substation near Melba, Idaho. According to the developer of this project, during peak construction, it is estimated to create between 1,100 and 1,200 jobs.

Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse Line to power to Minnesota and Wisconsin:

This double- circuit capable 345 kV transmission line will run between a new substation near Hampton, Minnesota, a new substation north of Pine Island, Minnesota, and continue on to cross the Mississippi River near Alma, Wisconsin. A single circuit 345 kV line will be built in Wisconsin to a new substation in the La Crosse area. Two 161 kV lines will be built between the new substation near Pine Island and existing substations northwest and east of Rochester. According to the developer of this project, about 1,650 jobs will be created during peak construction.

Oregon to get additional transmission from Cascade Crossing Line:

Portland General Electric's proposed Cascade Crossing Transmission Project includes about 210 miles of 500 kV transmission line from Boardman to Salem, Oregon — for the construction of four new substations, expansion of three existing substations, and upgrades to the existing transmission systems near Salem. According to the developer, Cascade Crossing is expected to create about 450 jobs during peak construction.

SunZia Transmission, LLC to bring power to New Mexico and Arizona:

SunZia Transmission, LLC plans to construct and operate up to two 500 kV transmission lines originating at a new substation in Lincoln County in the vicinity of Ancho, New Mexico, and terminating at the Pinal Central Substation in Pinal County near Coolidge, Arizona. According to the developer estimated job creation will be about 3,408 direct jobs during the construction period.

Susquehanna to Roseland Line brings new transmission to Pennsylvania and New Jersey:

PPL Electric Utilities and Public Service Electric and Gas Co. have proposed the Susquehanna-Roseland power line project which includes a nearly 145-mile long 500 kV transmission line from the Susquehanna Substation in Pennsylvania to the Roseland Substation in New Jersey, and several 500 – 230 kV substations in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Based on the current schedule for the environmental review, the project is expected to be in service in the spring of 2015. According to the project's developer, over 2000 jobs will be created in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Transwest Express to stand-up transmission from Wyoming to Utah and Nevada:

TransWest Express LLC plans to construct and operate a more than 700 mile, 600 kV, transmission line which is estimated by the developer to create 1,035-1,550 direct jobs per year at peak construction. This project will facilitate the development of new wind projects in Wyoming.

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