Environmental Recommendations for Transmission Planning

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Report: Environmental Recommendations for Transmission Planning


As part of the Regional Transmission Expansion Planning (RTEP) project, the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) Scenario Planning Steering Group (SPSG) formed the Environmental Data Task Force (EDTF) in June 2010 to “develop recommendations on the type, quality, and sources of data on land, wildlife, cultural, historical, archaeological, and water resources (in coordination with work conducted via the State-Provincial Steering Committee), exploring ways to transform that data into study cases and into the models.” 1 Consideration of environmental and cultural information during regional transmission planning and in parity with electric demand, generation resources, energy policies, technology costs, impacts on transmission reliability, and emissions is anticipated to facilitate collaborative and comprehensive transmission planning for the Western Interconnection. The resulting transmission plans will consider environmental and cultural information before transmission alternatives are proposed for development. Throughout this report, these resources are referred to as environmental and cultural information or data. Non-transmission alternatives (e.g., demand-side management, distributed generation, conservation, and energy efficiency) will also be considered during the regional transmission planning process; however, despite these efforts, the need for new transmission is anticipated to enable renewable energy development. Siting, permitting, and constructing new renewable generation resources may require 2 to 3 years. These same steps for high voltage transmission can require 7 to 10 years. The regional transmission plans prepared by the WECC Transmission Expansion Planning Policy Committee (TEPPC) will not address siting, permitting, and construction; however, there is a link between these transmission plans and subsequent proposals to build transmission lines. For example, one anticipated benefit of incorporating environmental and cultural information upfront in the transmission planning process is to reduce the potential for conflict with these resources during subsequent siting, permitting, and construction. High voltage transmission lines have a relatively small direct footprint on the ground; however, large, interstate transmission lines can also indirectly and cumulatively impact wildlife, cultural and historical features, and water resources. The Western Governors’ Association Wildlife Corridors Initiative2 ………………………………………………………… 1 Scope of Work for SPSG Environmental Data Task Force Version 1.1, November 17, 2010. describes the potential impacts of transmission lines on wildlife; as this Initiative makes clear there is an important relationship between wildlife and their habitat. The Western Governors’ Association is coordinating development of a state wildlife decision support system (DSS) that, when complete, will provide seamless wildlife data across state boundaries to better consider wildlife and habitat relationships during

transmission planning.

ICF International

Environmental Data Task Force

Western Electricity Coordinating Council, 2011

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Internet link for Environmental Recommendations for Transmission Planning


ICF International (Environmental Data Task Force). 2011. Environmental Recommendations for Transmission Planning. N/A: Western Electricity Coordinating Council.