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Public Meetings This Week on Gateway West Transmission Lines Project

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The Bureau of Land Management is holding public informational open houses all this week to explain the controversial proposed Gateway West Transmission Line project. (lauramusikanski/morguefile)
The Bureau of Land Management is holding public informational open houses all this week to explain the controversial proposed Gateway West Transmission Line project. (lauramusikanski/morguefile)
 By Suzanne Potter - Producer, Contact
April 19, 2016

BOISE, Idaho - This week, the public can learn more about the massive 1,100 mile Gateway West Transmission Line project at several open houses hosted by the Bureau of Land Management.

There are events today in Boise and Kuna, one tomorrow in Twin Falls and one Thursday in Murphy. Experts will be available to explain the maps of the proposed routes and the potential impact on wildlife.

Ken Miller, clean energy program director for the advocacy group the Snake River Alliance, questions the need for this multi-billion-dollar project.

"Do we really need to transmit more energy from 500-plus miles away when we have other alternatives such as wind and solar, closer to where it's being used in places like in Boise," says Miller. "That can meet the load need just as easily and certainly more affordably and with fewer environmental impacts."

The lines would likely move power from wind turbines and coal-fired power plants in central Wyoming to southern Idaho.

Segments 1 through 7 already have been approved but the draft supplemental environmental impact statement on sections 8 and 9 in Idaho is still open for public comment through June 9.

Proponents include Rocky Mountain Power, Idaho Power and the Bonneville Power Administration.

Miller is worried about bird strikes on one proposed route near existing lines that cross the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area.

But, he says, if you move the route, you could endanger other birds such as the sage grouse.

"Sage grouse are ground-nesting birds and they're very vulnerable to birds of prey, which would presumably roost on the transmission towers that would be crossing their territory," he says.

The BLM is expected to make a final decision on whether to green light the project sometime this fall. For more information on the open houses, go to gatewaywest.publicmeeting.info.

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