Author Topic: It Took 15 Years for the Feds To Approve a 700-Mile Electric Line  (Read 343 times)

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Offline Kamaji

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It Took 15 Years for the Feds To Approve a 700-Mile Electric Line

It'll be another five years before it's operational.


In November 2007, the original iPhone was barely four months old, Barack Obama was considered a long shot to win the Democratic nomination for president, and Steph Curry was a sophomore playing basketball for little-known Davidson College.

That same month, the TransWest Express Transmission Project filed its first request with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), seeking permission to build a 732-mile electric transmission line to connect a wind farm in southern Wyoming with a power grid serving the rapidly growing area around Las Vegas.

Last week, the BLM granted permission for the line to be built.

We've blown through 14 versions of iPhones, seen two terms of Obama's presidency (plus another term-and-a-half since he left office), and witnessed Curry score over 21,000 points and win four championships as a professional in the time that it took federal bureaucrats to review and approve an application for a transmission line carrying completely carbon-free, renewable energy across a mostly empty portion of the American West. That's a perfect illustration of the fact that the biggest obstacle to the government's renewable energy goals is often, in fact, the government itself.

Or governments, in this case. While the BLM took longer than anyone else to approve the project, the TransWest Express line suffered from "a 'spider web of jurisdiction' across multiple levels of government," according to Roxane Perruso, the company's COO. Perruso told EnergyWire, a trade publication, that the project required approvals from state, local, and federal entities—and getting those permits required surveys of over 40,000 acres of land for environmental impacts and 60,000 acres of land for cultural impacts.

All that to get permission to build a power line, which is less invasive than other forms of infrastructure can be. In addition to the BLM and state governments of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada, the project needed approval from the U.S. Forest Service, part of the federal Department of Agriculture, and the Western Area Power Administration, which is part of the federal Department of Energy. (In fairness, EnergyWire notes that the project also got snagged by disputes with some private property owners along the planned route.)

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