Tri-State working to preserve safety near airport

By Scott Fernau

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association treats safety as a primary concern when proposing and constructing transmission projects. The same can be said regarding our new 115-kilovolt transmission line being built in Delta County.

This portion of a larger project includes two new electric substations and nearly 13 miles of 115-kv transmission line, not yet energized. Some in the community have specific concerns with two power poles located a half-mile from Blake Field.  We’d like to take this opportunity to address these concerns.

Initially, consistent with the Federal Aviation Administration’s general recommendations to the public, Tri-State used the “Notice Criteria Tool” provided on the FAA’s website.

We first ran the tool in July, 2010. The results from the tool’s calculations concluded that a notice did not need to be filed with respect to the proposed transmission line construction. Tri-State later began construction of the line last September.

During construction, the Delta County/Blake Field Airport expressed concerns over some of the structures near the airport.  Tri-State quickly re-evaluated the initial data entered into the “Notice Criteria Tool” and determined, after consulting with the FAA, that the latitude and longitude information for the transmission line project was improperly converted before being entered into the online tool.

Using the correct data, Tri-State reran the “Notice Criteria Tool” and was instructed to file a notification with respect to 10 transmission line structures. Tri-State then filed formal notice with the FAA for these ten structures on October 28.

Since that time, we have met with numerous county, city, and airport officials to discuss the project and the process that the FAA will follow. The FAA is presently performing an aeronautical study of the airport and surrounding structures to determine if they constitute an obstruction to navigable airspace, and if so, what mitigation would be required.

We currently are waiting for the FAA’s determination following the comment period, which closed Tuesday.

Make no mistake, Tri-State will carefully evaluate any issues that arise following completion of the FAA’s study.

As discussed during the original county permitting process, selecting a route for this transmission project was a very complex and time-consuming process. The present line route was determined following years of study and close coordination with the public, city, county and the US Bureau of Land Management.

Unfortunately, the area offers few options to re-route the line. There is a federal wilderness study area to the west, the golf course/airport complex to the east and throughout the area, protection of the endangered Uinta Basin hookless cactus is a concern, making it very difficult to move the structures in either direction.

Tri-State is proud to be a member of the Delta County community, providing affordable and reliable power to Delta-Montrose Electric Association for 19 years.  We will continue to work very closely with the FAA and will act swiftly to ensure the safety of local pilots, to protect environmental concerns in the area, and to continue to provide reliable and affordable power to the Delta County area.

Scott Fernau is the Senior Project Manager for Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Inc., which is headquartered in Westminster, Colo.


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