Gilman to Avon Transmission Line
The proposed project is necessary to provide increased service reliability to HCE members located from Avon to Vail, as well as provide backup electrical services to the towns of Minturn and Red Cliff. The proposed project would help to protect the eastern part of Eagle County from natural phenomena like wildfires, avalanches, and landslides; transformer equipment failure; malicious and other man-made incidents like aviation accidents and domestic terrorism. The project would require construction of a new 115 kV line between the Avon Substation and the Gilman Substation.
PROPOSED PROJECT DESCRIPTION
The Gilman-to-Avon 115 kV Transmission Line Project would be approximately 9.0 miles in length. Much of the Proposed Acton would utilize existing utility rights-of-way (ROW’s) and access roads. The proposed route would parallel approximately 6.0 miles of existing ROW including an abandoned railroad and utility corridors with distribution lines. Paralleling portions of these ROWs would result in less environmental impact to biological resources because many of the segments cross previously disturbed areas.
OVERHEAD & UNDERGROUND PORTIONS
Undergrounding transmission lines in our area is very labor intensive and costly. HCE traditionally socializes all operational and system costs, therefore, our entire membership will be bearing the costs of this line. The HCE Board of Directors has agreed to bury 3 miles of this transmission line in an effort to further minimize the impact of the line on the residents of Minturn. HCE would like to hear from Minturn about where those 3 miles should fall along the proposed route.
All considered routes
HCE investigated several routes before deciding on the proposed route.
Option 1 – West of town on Meadow Mountain. The route was decided against due to the impact on recreational activities and because the line cannot be buried there because of an unstable slope.
Option 2 – High on the ridge to the east of town. The option was discarded because it required the line to go through United States Forest Service (USFS) Roadless Areas – and the Forest Service would not accept a first application that went through Roadless Areas.
Proposed option submitted to the Forest Service – follows the existing railroad and utility corridor in an effort to minimize the impact of this new transmission line.
The proposed new 115-kV transmission line crosses lands managed by the United States Forest Service (USFS) White River National Forest. In order for the line to be constructed, the USFS will have to provide a Special Use Authorization and therefore this project must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). A decision on the Special Use Authorization is the “Federal Nexus” that triggers the NEPA process.
NEPA is intended to support good agency decision-making. Collaboration with the public is key to this process. Since NEPA was enacted in 1969, the USFS has used public collaboration as a tool to focus on issues that matter.
The public can help federal agencies better understand potential positive and negative effects of a proposed action and focus on issues that are most important to their community. This process is called “scoping”. Scoping will begin in the next month or two. It is the formal opportunity for members of the public to hear about the project, ask questions, and provide input. Input from the public will help “scope” the environmental (both natural and human) analysis.
Next steps after public scoping include:
• Data gathering
• Development of the Environmental Assessment including characterization of the natural and human setting analysis of potential impacts
• Decision documents for the Special Use Authorization
• Project decision anticipated to occur at the end of 2019 or in early 2020
An Environmental Assessment (EA) under NEPA is the assessment of the environmen-tal consequences (positive and negative) of a plan, policy, program, or actual projects prior to the decision to move forward with the proposed action.
An EA will result in a public document that provides evidence and analysis for determining whether the USFS should issue a Finding of No Significant Environmental Impact or prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.
In 1974, Colorado enacted measures to define the authority of state and local governments in making planning decisions for matters of statewide interest. These powers are commonly referred to as “1041 powers;” because the number of the bill was HB 74-1041. The 1041 powers allow local governments to identify, designate, and regulate areas and activities of state interest through a local permitting process. The general intention of 1041 powers is to allow local governments to maintain their control over particular development projects even where the development project has statewide impacts. The Minturn Town Council has notified HCE that they intend to enforce their 1041 permitting powers for this project.