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BLM grants rights of way for final Gateway West segments

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management signed a record of decision authorizing routes for the final two segments of the Gateway West Transmission Line Project.

The BLM on Jan. 20 said the authorization grants rights of way to Idaho Power Co. and PacifiCorp, d/b/a Rocky Mountain Power, to build and operate 321 miles of 500-kV transmission lines on BLM-managed public lands in Gooding, Elmore, Owyhee, Cassia and Twin Falls counties in Idaho.

The companies have long planned to build about 1,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines in Idaho and Wyoming to boost reliability and move electricity from wind and other generation resources.

The BLM released its final environmental impact statement on the project in April 2013 and issued a record of decision in November 2013, providing a right-of-way grant for most of the project. However, the agency deferred its decision on the western-most segments of the project across a wildlife refuge to conduct a more extensive environmental review of alternative routes. The bureau released its final review of those two segments in October 2016.

The environmental review identified the routes authorized in the ROD as the agency's preferred alternative and outlined mitigation requirements that will become stipulations or terms and conditions for the right-of-way grants, the BLM said.

According to the project website, the companies will continue with work needed to meet requirements of the 2013 ROD and meet with the BLM to review progress on conditions outlined in the more recent decision. The project website also notes that more work is needed to get state and local permits and rights-of-way for the entire length of the planned line. The companies said they will continue evaluating the timing of the next steps in the project to best meet customer and system needs. Line segments could be done in phases between 2019 and 2024.

PacifiCorp is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy and Idaho Power is a subsidiary of IDACORP Inc.