The TransWest Express Transmission Project has passed a significant regulatory milestone with public release of the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Western Area Power Administration (Western). The 730-mile project would add 3,000 megawatts of transmission capacity to the western U.S. electric grid, creating a critical link between renewable resources in the Rocky Mountains and the Desert Southwest by providing access to cost-effective wind energy while minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.
AECOM, a fully integrated professional and technical services firm with a leading environmental impact assessment and permitting practice, prepared the final EIS for BLM and Western. The 2,550-page document addresses social, ecological, cultural, aesthetic and economic impacts of the linear power project. It culminates six years of environmental analysis, routing studies, biological and cultural field surveys, and coordination of 50 federal, state and local agencies along with extensive public involvement and collaboration in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Earlier, AECOM’s Draft EIS for the project received EPA’s highest rating for adequacy.
According to Matthew Sutton, chief executive of AECOM’s environmental business, “Achieving the final EIS for this important energy transmission project is testament to the commitment and collaboration of public and private stakeholders, and the technical expertise of the AECOM team. We’re pleased to have played a key role in preparing the final EIS, facilitating a balanced approach to development and transmission of renewable energy to meet consumer needs while preserving environmental resources.”
AECOM was selected to assist BLM and Western with EIS preparation because of its history preparing third-party NEPA documents in the western U.S., and its environmental permitting and management experience with large, complex capital projects. AECOM has completed the NEPA process for 30 major energy and industrial development projects, including wind, solar, natural gas and oil pipelines, electrical transmission, power plants and mines under direction of BLM and other federal agencies. A similar AECOM accomplishment was preparation of the final EIS for the Chokecherry-Sierra Madre wind generation project, perhaps the largest proposed wind farm in the U.S.
The high-voltage, direct-current transmission line has been planned to complement existing lines and deliver 20,000 GWh per year of clean and sustainable energy—enough to power up to 2 million homes-- to utilities in California, Nevada and Arizona. Two-thirds of the 730-mile transmission route lies on federal land managed by BLM, following designated utility corridors and co-locating with existing transmission to avoid or minimize impacts. A major regional transmission line, the project would create up to 1,000 jobs during construction. Publication of the EIS in the Federal Register (May 1), began a 30-day required public availability period followed by final Records of Decision scheduled for September 2015.
AECOM is a premier, fully integrated professional and technical services firm positioned to design, build, finance and operate infrastructure assets around the world for public- and private-sector clients. With nearly 100,000 employees —architects, engineers, designers, planners, scientists and management and construction services professionals — serving clients in 150 countries, AECOM blends global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering customized and creative solutions that meet the needs of client projects. A Fortune 500 firm, AECOM, had revenue of approximately $19 billion during 12 months ended Dec. 31, 2014. www.aecom.com.
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