Overland Intertie project to seek public input before permits
As transmission plans for wind energy are developed and produced in Wyoming move forward, a company called LS Power will also move forward with their plans for the Overland Intertie Project, which is planned to run from southeast Wyoming to Midpoint, Idaho.
According to the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority (WYIA), the Overland Intertie Project is the latest entrant into the transmission development arena in Wyoming. The project is being designed to carry up to 3,000 megawatts of power to markets across the western United States.
“The Overland Intertie Project will deliver wind energy from Wyoming to the Midpoint hub in Idaho, for delivery to the south on the Southwest Intertie Project, or to the west on other planned transmission at the Midpoint hub,” says the WYIA, mentioning the Southwest Intertie Project (SWIP) – the line that began LS Power’s involvement in moving wind power.
“Through that project and through looking for customers for it we got a lot of interest in transmission from people in Wyoming,” says Miller. “Plus, after spending time in Wyoming, we enjoy working here and it’s a good state to work in.”
For each project LS Power Group develops it assigns a project company, in this case Jade Energy Associates (JEA), so any announcements, permit applications or other documents will be made and filed under that name.
According to information on the SWIP, JEA is pursuing the Overland Intertie Project as a complimentary transmission project to the SWIP that will directly connect to high capacity factor wind generation in eastern Wyoming and transport the energy to the SWIP’s northern terminus.
“The Overland Intertie Project, combined with the SWIP will provide Wyoming wind resources with direct access to load centers and liquid energy markets in the Desert Southwest,” says the information. “The two projects will provide transmission access to some of the best wind, geothermal and solar resources in the West and will take advantage of the diversity from these resources.”
While a route for the Overland Transmission Project line has been roughly sketched, the company will begin to hold public meetings along the route to work out the exact siting details.
“Our public involvement process is how we want to set ourselves apart, with an open and inclusive process,” says Ryan Miller, LS Power spokesman. “The whole plan is to utilize local stakeholders to help us identify route alternatives.”
He says that contrasts to finding route alternatives for the transmission line through the permitting process.
“We spent about a year developing our approach, and that’s completed now and we’ll begin to implement our plan in the near future, beginning with open houses,” he says.
“Any map you see right now should be taken as a ‘Point A to Point B’ approach. How exactly we’ll connect those two points is something we plan to do through public involvement,” he adds. “We’ll put a lot of emphasis on stakeholder input, and make sure we treat people with respect, putting forth the effort to get their opinions and making sure they’re given the opportunity to speak and be heard.”
In early March Miller says he expects community working groups to be organized and drawn together. “We’re trying to identify those interested in participating by talking with community leaders and asking for recommendations on potential participants,” he explains.
While the public meetings are the most immediate next step, Miller says the wealth of permits required from federal, state, county and local entities will be filled in as the process progresses.
Of the permits, Miller says, “We keep in contact with all the agencies so we know what those requirements are and we’re pursuing those as it’s appropriate, but the public involvement process comes first.”
Of other considerations such as sage grouse core areas, Miller says LS Power is familiar with those issues and will keep in touch. “All those issues add layers, but they’re not something we haven’t dealt with in the past, and we’ll continue to deal with them in the future,” he says. “It’s one of many things that go into these projects.”
Although he’s not yet sure when the public meetings will begin, Miller says he expects construction to begin in 2013 and continue through two or three construction seasons, with an expected in-service date of 2015.
“We really are trying to do this right, setting a new standard for siting transmission projects,” says Miller.