Wyoming Bulk Transmission Transmission & Interconnection(8-WY)
The electrical grid in Wyoming is part of the WestConnect Transmission Planning area, and covers the southwest of the United States. Within the WestConnect system, Wyoming is part of the Colorado Coordinated Planning Group (CCPG) power grid that covers Colorado and portions of Wyoming.
The electrical grid in Wyoming also is part of the Western Interconnection power grid and the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC). WECC includes the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, the northern portion of Baja California, Mexico, and all or portions of the 14 Western states between. The WECC is the Regional Entity responsible for coordinating and promoting Bulk Electric System reliability in the Western Interconnection, including in Wyoming. In addition, WECC provides an environment for coordinating the operating and planning activities of its members as set forth in the WECC Bylaws.
In addition, some transmission owners in Wyoming are part of the Northern Tier Transmission Group (NTTG). The NTTG is a group of transmission providers and customers that are actively involved in the sale and purchase of transmission capacity of the power grid that delivers electricity to customers in the Northwest and Mountain States. Transmission owners serving this territory work in conjunction with state governments, customers, and other stakeholders to improve the operations of and chart the future for the grid that links all of these service territories.
Cheyenne Light, Fuel and Power, High Plains Power, Lower Valley Energy, High West Energy, Western Area Power Administration, Bonneville Power Administration, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc., and Rocky Mountain Power provide transmission in the state of Wyoming.
Wyoming Infrastructure Authority
Wyoming Infrastructure Authority (WIA), created in 2004 by the Wyoming State Legislature, is a quasi-governmental instrumentality of State of Wyoming. The WIA’s mission is to “diversify and expand the state’s economy through improvements in Wyoming’s electric transmission infrastructure to facilitate the consumption of Wyoming energy in the form of wind, natural gas, coal and nuclear, where applicable.” WIA can participate in planning, financing, constructing, developing, acquiring, maintaining and operating electric transmission facilities and their supporting infrastructure. Legislation provided the WIA with bonding authority of $1 Billion and other powers to promote transmission development in the State and throughout the region. It also provided the State Treasurer, with the approval of the State Loan and Investment Board, the authority to invest in WIA bonds. (Source: http://wyia.org/about-us/).
The state of Wyoming has a state-administered siting act for high-voltage transmission lines, the WISA. Proponents wishing to construct a transmission line subject to WISA must first file an application with WDEQ, Industrial Siting Division (ISD). Permit approval is granted by the ISC, a seven-member council appointed by the Governor. The ISC reviews the socio-economic and environmental impacts of planned industrial development facilities, including transmission lines, before issuing a permit for construction and operation.
Typically a proponent will apply for a WISA Permit using the requirements as outlined in W.S. 35-12-109, and summarized below:
- A description of the nature and location of the facility.
- Estimated time of commencement of construction and duration.
- Estimated number and job classifications, by calendar quarter, of employees of the applicant, or contractor or subcontractor, during the construction phase and during the operating life of the facility. Estimates must include the number of employees who will be utilized but who do not currently reside within the area to be affected by the facility.
- Future additions and modifications to the facility that the applicant may wish to be approved in the permit.
- A statement of why the proposed location was selected.
- A copy of any studies that may have been made of the environmental impact of the facility.
- Inventory of estimated discharges, emissions, and proposed methods of control.
- Inventory of estimated solid wastes and proposed disposal program.
- The procedures proposed to avoid constituting a public nuisance, endangering the public health and safety, human or animal life, property, wildlife or plant life, or recreational facilities that may be adversely affected by the estimated emissions or discharges.
- Preliminary evaluations of or plans and proposals for alleviating social, economic, or environmental impacts upon local government or special districts that may result from the proposed facility, including scenic resources, recreational resources, archaeological and historical resources, land use patterns, economic base, housing, transportation, sewer and water facilities, solid waste facilities, police and fire facilities, educational facilities, health and hospital facilities, water supply, and other relevant areas.
- Estimated construction cost of the facility.
- A list of other state or federal permits and approvals that would be required.
- Compatibility of the facility with state or local land use plans, if any.
- Any other information the applicant considers relevant or required by council rule or regulation.
A proponent may request a waiver by submitting a written request for waiver of permit with the ISD. The waiver application follows the same format as outlined in section 109, excluding parts identified as not necessary by the administrator. 
The ISD receives and processes WISA permit applications. Notice of the filing and the forthcoming hearing is provided, including notice to affected landowners relative to the impact of the proposed facility. Copies of the permit application are provided to 19 state agencies for statutory review and comment, and to local governments, schools and districts in the affected area. The 18 State agencies that review the permit application include:
- Wyoming Department of Transportation
- Public Service Commission
- Game and Fish Department
- Department of Health
- Department of Education
- Office of State Engineer
- Wyoming State Geologist
- Wyoming Department of Agriculture
- Department of Environmental Quality
- The University of Wyoming
- Department of Revenue
- The Wyoming Business Council
- Department of Workforce Services
- Office of State Lands and Investments
- Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources
- Fire Prevention and Electrical Safety
- Department of Family Services
- Oil and Gas Conservation Commission
The application is examined for completeness. Compliant applications and recommendations for permit conditions are given to the ISC for consideration. The ISC holds a contested case hearing with sworn testimonies, examination and cross examination of witnesses. Those persons with statutory eligibility are able to participate. If an application is determined to not be complete, then the application is terminated if deficiencies are not corrected within 30 days of the applicant being notified.
The ISC may issue a permit to construct and operate a transmission line if it finds that the proposed facility:
- Complies with all applicable local, state, and federal law throughout each phase of planning, construction and operation
- Will not pose a threat of serious injury to the environment or to the social and economic condition of the inhabitants
- Will not substantially impair the health, safety or welfare of the inhabitants
- The applicant has the financial resources to construct, maintain, operate, decommission and reclaim the facility
In making its decision the ISC may add permit conditions and, under certain circumstances, relocate the transmission line to mitigate identified impacts. The decision will typically be issued within 135 days of the filing of an application under section 109 and within 60 days of the filing of an application under section 7. The ISC decision may be appealed by the applicant or any party to the district court within 30 days of the decision.
Wyoming Public Service Commission (PSC) - CPCN Permit Process
A Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) must also be obtained from the PSC prior to construction of certain facilities, including transmission lines. The PSC considers the financial ability and good faith of the applicant as well as the necessity of additional services in determining whether to issue a CPCN. A proponent may submit a CPCN application at the same time as the WISA permit application is submitted.
Specific public notice and hearing requirements apply to CPCN applications for high voltage electric transmission lines with a capacity of 230kV or greater. The PSC must publish notice of application in a newspaper of general circulation in each county where the line will be constructed. The PSC must also give actual notice of hearing on the application by registered mail at the applicant's expense to each landowner who may be affected. The notice of hearing must be given at least thirty (30) days before the hearing is held and must contain a summary of the pertinent facts about the application.
Construction of high voltage electric transmission lines with a capacity of 230kV or greater may not begin until all necessary rights-of-way are acquired. However, high voltage electric transmission lines may be constructed in segments subject to certain conditions specified in W.S. 37-2-205(h). Those conditions include:
- The public utility has obtained all required right-of-way within the authorized segment;
- Authorization to construct the transmission line within the authorized segment shall not exceed ten (10) miles from the advancing end of an authorized segment, provided that the commission may waive the ten (10) mile limitation if the transmission line segment is:
- Located entirely between substations or switching stations;
- Located between a substation or switching station and the state line; or
- Located entirely within state or federal land
- Notice has been provided to all private property owners along the entire length of the proposed transmission line;
- The PSC provides an opportunity for private property owners who are adversely affected by the location of the segment an opportunity to be heard before the authorization of a segment concerning the location of the segment or the impact of any future extension of the transmission line.
Section 204 and 205 of the PSC’s Procedural Rules and Special Regulations specify the required contents of applications for CPCNs. Electric transmission (and distribution) lines more than 3 miles in length and sixty-nine (69) kV and above are considered “Major Utility Facilities” which are subject to additional requirements under Section 205 of the rules. The rules require that the following information be included with an application for a CPCN:
- The name and address of the applicant;
- The type of plant, property or facility proposed to be constructed;
- A complete description of the facilities proposed to be constructed, including preliminary engineering specifications in sufficient detail to properly describe the principal systems and components; and final and complete engineering specifications when they become available;
- The rates, if any, proposed to be charged for the service that will be rendered because of the proposed construction;
- The estimated total cost of the proposed construction;
- State the manner by which the proposed construction will be financed; (g) State the financial condition of the applicant;
- The estimated annual operating revenues and expenses that are expected to accrue from the proposed construction;
- The estimated starting and completion date of the proposed construction;
- For facilities that are “Major Utility Facilities” the rules also require that the following additional information be included in the CPCN application:
- A description of the proposed site by an appropriate description of the involved properties and the county or counties in which the major utility facility will be located and where possible a metes and bounds description; a description of the route of line or lines in the project and the number of route miles located in each county; a description of the various types of country in or through which the facility will be constructed;
- A brief report on the surrounding scenic, historical, archeological and recreational locations, natural resources, plant and animal life, land reclamation, possible safety hazards, and plans for protecting the environment;
- Land, mineral and water requirements for the major utility facility, the status of the acquisition of land, or rights-of-way or of minerals and water for the project, the sources or locations thereof, and the proposed method of transportation and utilization;
- A statement setting forth the need for the project in meeting present and future demands for service, in Wyoming or other states, and the proposed sale of the utility commodity or service which the construction of this facility will make available;
- A statement of the effect of the project on applicant's and other systems' stability and reliability, if applicable;
- The estimated cost of and plans for financing the project, and a statement of the estimated effect of the project on applicant's revenues and expenses.
- A list of local, state, Indian, or federal governmental agencies having requirements which must be met in connection with the construction or operation of the project, and the status before those agencies; and applicant shall file such agency's final order when entered.
The local regulatory authorities include counties and incorporated city governments within the state of Wyoming. Transmission line projects that incur a construction cost of $190.8 million or more and are 160kV or more are under the permitting jurisdiction of the state; however, local government permitting requirements may apply. If the PSC or the WDEQ/ISC has jurisdiction over a transmission project within the state, either has the authority to preempt local decisions regarding transmission siting and construction. Wyoming has 23 counties and 99 incorporated municipalities and the requirements and permits needed for construction of an electric transmission line vary by county and municipality. Some or all of the following elements may be necessary:
- Above and below ground utility permit
- Road access permit
- Road maintenance agreement
- County building permit
- ROW permits
- Grading permits
- Consultation with local weed and pest districts
- Conditional Use Permit/Special Use Permit
Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply
Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.
Permitting at a Glance
|State or Preemptive Authority:||The Wyoming Infrastructure Authority has jurisdiction over transmission projects within the state, and has the authority to preempt local decisions regarding transmission siting and construction.|||
|Transmission Siting Agency:||Wyoming Infrastructure Authority|
|Transmission Siting Process:||A developer must obtain a permit from the Industrial Siting Council (ISC) for projects that qualify as an “industrial facility.” See Wyo. Stat. § 35-12-106(a).|
|Transmission Siting Threshold:||An “industrial facility” is defined to include any facility whose estimated construction costs are at or above the threshold listed in Wyo. Stat. § 35-12-102(a)(vii) (the current threshold is $198,000,000 and is updated twice a year).|
|Siting Act:||Wyoming Industrial Development and Siting Act (WISA)|
|Public Utility Regulatory Authority Certification Transmission Threshold:||Public utilities must obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Wyoming Public Service Commission before constructing a transmission line.|
|Permit Authorization:||WISA Permit (Section 107 and Section 109)|
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List of Reference Sources
- W.S. 35-12 (2013). 104
- W.S. 35-12 (2013). 107(a)(b)
- Rules and Regulations of the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council - Chapter 1 (2014). Section 7
- W.S. 35-12 (2013). 110(b)
- W.S. 37-2 (2013). 205(a)
- Rules and Regulations of the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council - Chapter 2 (2014).
- W.S. 37-2 (2013). 112
- W.S. 37-2 (2013).