SARATOGA – TransWest Express Transmission Project was approved at the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council meeting in Saratoga on Friday. This project has been in the works since 2007.
This $3 billion project will build a 500kV electrical transmission line 730 miles, from just west of Sinclair Wyoming to the Marketplace Hub near Boulder City, Nevada, crossing four states in the process. This new line will have the capacity to provide enough power to light 1.8 million homes.
This 14-month project will be built over two years, in two seven-month increments starting in the Spring of 2020, with only a small portion of it being built in Wyoming and Colorado. The majority of it crosses diagonally across Utah and into Nevada.
This line will travel about 92 miles from Sinclair along I-80 to Wamsutter and then turn diagonally south and enter Colorado just west of Baggs. It will continue diagonally south in Colorado before turning west, north of Rangely and continuing into Utah.
The afternoon portion of this all day hearing focused on the impact this project would have on Carbon and Sweetwater counties as well as the towns of Saratoga, Sinclair, Rawlins, and Wamsutter. Baggs did not apply for impact money although County officials did discuss possible impacts to that part of the county.
As each of these entities presented their requests for funding, they were asked to justify their requests to the Council members. Most of the council members had only minimal comment. Council member Ken Lantta of Casper was very vigorous in his questioning of most of the applicants.
The funding requests for Wamsutter came under particular scrutiny, with Lantta demanding justification of funding for a $288,000 fire truck for a 14-month project. He also questioned $91,000 for the Rural Health District, $30,000 in funding for food bank funding for indigent people in Wamsutter, a $250,000 new scale at the land fill, $270,000 for equipment usage, $374,000 to support temporary workers and $110,000 for a street sweeper.
Saratoga also received several tough questions about their request since they stated the housing impact for this project would be minimal.
Rawlins and the Carbon County received praise from Lantta for their presentations and requests.
At the end of the questioning Council Chairman James Miller called for a motion to approve the funding requests. Upon receiving that, he opened the motion for Council comment. Councilman Ken Lantta went on record with these comments. “I can’t come up with 50 percent that is accurate and am against the motion. Are we living up to the intent of the statute when we are giving bags of money for duplicate projects?”
Chairman Jim Miller pointed out that under the funding model there was $24 million available for impact funding for this project and only $8 million was requested, leaving $16 million available for supplemental funding. He then said,” If we pass this, we are doing the state’s business correctly.”
The funding question then passed 6-1 with Councilman Lantta voting adamantly no.
The funding breakdown of what each County and Town asked for was not available at press time.