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Feds, P.C. officials discuss options on Gateway West transmission line

The Power County Press of American Falls, Idaho

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Members from the federal Rapid Response Team for Transmission, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009, met with Power County officials in Boise on Friday, Jan. 13.

The team's goal is to help the procedure for electrical transmission lines move forward more rapidly, eliminating some red tape. The members of the team represent different federal agencies that have a stake in the siting of major transmission lines across the U.S. The federal team is focusing on seven different transmission projects, including Idaho Power's Gateway West project that will likely run through Power County.

Power County Commissioner Vicki Meadows traveled to Boise to represent Power County along with Rayma Cates, a member of Power County's citizen task force on transmission line siting and Doug Balfour, an attorney that represents the county and task force.

Meadows said she was pleased with the reception of the federal officials at the meeting, which lasted about an hour. Along with Power County, representatives from Cassia and Owyhee counties also attended, as well as representatives from the City of Kuna.

One major point that Power County wanted to get across to the federal officials was that those building transmission lines need to contact local governments earlier in the process so they can participate earlier in the siting of lines.

The other major point Power County brought up was that companies building transmission lines need a way to reimburse counties for the work they put in when siting transmission lines. When a transmission line is placed in a county, that county spends a lot of money on attorney fees and studies it would not normally spend, Meadows said, and there needs to be a way for companies to reimburse the county for the money they spend.

Meadows said the government officials there were willing to listen to their concerns. Hopefully they can go back and make improvements to the process for siting transmission lines, she said.

"I was pretty pleased with how it turned out," she said. "I would consider it a success."

Not all the agencies involved directly oversee transmission lines. Among the agencies represented was the Department of Agriculture. The Department of Agriculture is examining how transmission line siting affects CRP ground, Meadows said.

Other agencies that have a say in transmission line siting include the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Department of Interior, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Original Publication Date: January 18, 2012

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