Transmission development can have serious impacts on the land, but also has an important role to play in supporting wind and solar projects. Building only what we need and avoiding paths through sensitive wildlands and wildlife habitat will limit impacts to our public lands.
The TransWest Express transmission project is a proposed 600 kV direct current transmission line planned to cross 725 miles of public and private lands. If approved, the project would have the capacity to carry up to 3,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to power nearly a million homes.
Careful planning for the proposed project is critical - many important lands fall within the potential routes for the project including National Park Service lands, wildlife refuges, national monuments and wilderness study areas. The region is also home to the greater sage-grouse, a ground dwelling bird of the west that is at risk of being listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act because of impacts from grazing, energy development and other human activities on the land.
If an acceptable route can be found, this project could play an important role in supporting renewable energy development in the west. TransWest Express is designed to connect the largest proposed wind project in the west, the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre proposal in southern Wyoming, to the Las Vegas area. From there, power could also be delivered to California.
The BLM and the Western Area Power Administration are leading the permitting process for the proposed project. To protect wildlands and wildlife habitat, we are recommending routes that would have the fewest impacts, as well as advocating for efforts to offset any unavoidable impacts. It is also important that the line carry primarily renewable energy and limit increases in fossil fuel-based power.
Permitting began in early 2011 and a final decision is expected in 2014.
- BLM site for the TransWest Express Transmission Project:
- TransWest Express Transmission Project site:
- Maps of TransWest Express:
- BLM Sage Grouse Initiative:
- Council on Environmental Quality’s Interagency Rapid Response Team for Transmission: