[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 235 (Monday, December 8, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 72677-72678]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-28721]


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DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

Western Area Power Administration


Antelope Valley Station to Neset Transmission Project Record of 
Decision (DOE/EIS-0478)

AGENCY: Western Area Power Administration, DOE.

ACTION: Record of Decision.

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SUMMARY: Western Area Power Administration (Western), an agency within 
the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), received a request from Basin 
Electric Power Cooperative (Basin Electric) to interconnect its 
proposed Antelope Valley Station (AVS) to Neset Transmission Project 
(Project) to Western's Williston Substation and Williston to Charlie 
Creek 230-kilovolt (kV) transmission line. The Project would be located 
in northwest North Dakota including parts of Mercer, Dunn, McKenzie, 
Williams, and Mountrail counties. On May 30, 2014, the Notice of 
Availability (NOA) of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) 
for the Project was published in the Federal Register (79 FR 31085). 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Rural Utilities Service 
(RUS) was the lead Federal agency for the EIS. Western was a 
cooperating agency in preparation of the EIS. After considering the 
environmental impacts, Western has decided to allow Basin Electric's 
request for interconnection.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information, please 
contact Mr. Rod O'Sullivan, Corporate Services Office, Western Area 
Power Administration, A7400, P.O. Box 281213, Lakewood, CO 80228-8213, 
telephone (720) 962-7260 or email: [email protected]. For general 
information on DOE's National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) 
review process, please contact Carol M. Borgstrom, Director, Office of 
NEPA Policy and Compliance, GC-54, U.S. Department of Energy, 
Washington, DC 20585, telephone (202) 586-4600 or (800) 472-2756.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Western is a Federal agency under the DOE 
that markets and transmits wholesale electrical power through an 
integrated 17,000-circuit mile, high-voltage transmission system across 
15 western states. Basin Electric's request for interconnection was 
processed in accordance with Western's General Requirements for 
Interconnection, which sets forth the procedures and requirements for 
certain types of interconnection to Western's transmission system that 
are not provided for in Western's Open Access Transmission Tariff 
(e.g., system-to-system interconnections not associated with 
transmission or generator interconnection service).
    Interested parties were notified of the proposed Project and the 
public scoping comment opportunity through a Notice of Intent published 
in the Federal Register on November 2, 2011 (76 FR 67670). The RUS 
published an NOA of the Draft EIS in the Federal Register on December 
7, 2012 (77 FR 73029). On December 20, 2013, the U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency (EPA) published an NOA of the Supplemental Draft EIS 
for the Project in the Federal Register (78 FR 77121). On May 30, 2014, 
RUS published an NOA of the Final EIS for the Project in the Federal 
Register (79 FR 31085).\1\ The RUS published its NOA for its Record of 
Decision (ROD) on September 22, 2014, in the Federal Register (79 FR 
56557). With the issuance of its ROD, RUS selected Alternative C as the 
transmission line route.
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    \1\ The Final EIS can be found on the RUS Web site at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/UWP-AVS-Neset.html.
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    The RUS was the lead Federal agency for the EIS. Western and the 
USDA, Forest Service (USFS) participated as cooperating agencies on the 
EIS. After an independent review of the Final EIS, Western has 
concluded that its needs

[[Page 72678]]

are satisfied and has adopted the Final EIS.

Proposed Federal Action

    Western's proposed Federal action is to allow Basin Electric's 
Project to interconnect to Western's Williston Substation and Williston 
to Charlie Creek 230-kV transmission line.

Basin Electric Proposed Project

    Basin Electric is proposing to construct, own and operate a new 
345-kV transmission line and associated supporting infrastructure. The 
Project will consist of approximately 278 miles of transmission line, 
including 265 miles of new 345-kV transmission line and 13 miles of new 
230-kV transmission line, five new substations and equipment additions, 
but no expansion to four existing substations. The proposed Project 
would connect to the Integrated System, the high-voltage transmission 
grid in the upper Great Plains managed by Western, at several 
locations, including Western's Williston Substation and a point along 
its Williston to Charlie Creek 230-kV transmission line. This Project 
is referred to as Alternative C in the Final EIS. Alternative C 
combines Alternative A, McKenzie County portions of Alternative B from 
the Draft EIS, and three new substations (Red, White, and Blue 
substations).
    The new 345-kV transmission line would start at the AVS Electric 
Generation Station located near Beulah, North Dakota, and extend west 
where it would connect with Basin Electric's existing Charlie Creek 
345-kV Substation located near Grassy Butte. The line would then extend 
north where it would connect with Basin Electric's proposed Judson 
Substation near Williston and terminate at Basin Electric's newly 
proposed Tande Substation. Additional 230-kV transmission lines would 
be constructed between the new Judson 345-kV Substation and Western's 
existing Williston Substation, between a new 345/230/115-kV substation 
referred to as the Blue Substation and Western's existing 230-kV 
transmission line, and also between the Tande 345-kV Substation and 
Basin Electric's existing Neset 230-kV Substation located near Tioga, 
North Dakota. Additionally, the White Substation would be constructed 
along with the Red Substation to the Blue Substation transmission line 
segment to interconnect with the local 115-kV system for load-serving 
purposes.

Description of Alternatives

    Three transmission line alternatives, two transmission line 
variations in the Little Missouri National Grasslands (LMNG), and the 
No Action alternative were evaluated. Alternative C is described above; 
Alternative D is similar to Alternative C with the primary difference 
being the construction of a double-circuit 345-kV line north of 
Killdeer for 63 miles to the Blue Substation. Alternative E is similar 
to Alternative D with the primary difference being the construction of 
two parallel 345-kV transmission lines north of Killdeer rather than a 
double-circuit line. The variations across the LMNG include double-
circuiting the 345-kV line with Western's existing 230-kV transmission 
Line. RUS has identified Alternative C as its preferred alternative 
because it best meets the purpose and need and minimizes or mitigates 
potential impacts.

Mitigation Measures

    For the transmission facility component of the proposed Project, 
Basin Electric has committed to best management practices and 
mitigation measures as outlined in Appendix A of the Final EIS. Western 
will abide by the Biological Assessment as it pertains to the 
interconnection at Western's existing Williston Substation and 
Williston to Charlie Creek 230-kV transmission line.
    In compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act, RUS/
Western/USFS has executed a Programmatic Agreement with the North 
Dakota State Historic Preservation Office along with Basin Electric (as 
an invited signatory). Western has reviewed the October 17, 2014, 
letter to RUS from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) 
concerning the Killdeer Mountain Battlefield (KMB) core and study 
areas; and has also reviewed the October 24, 2014, response letter from 
RUS to the Advisory Council, including the ACHP's ability to 
participate in consultation meetings, and that the more limited area 
was determined to be National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) 
eligible. Of significance to the ROD is that neither interconnection to 
the Williston Substation nor to the Williston to Charlie Creek 230-kV 
transmission line are in or close to the limited NRHP core area, nor 
the even larger KMB study area, and will have no effect on any of these 
areas.
    Western requires its construction contractors to implement standard 
environmental protection provisions. These provisions are provided in 
Western's Construction Standard 13 and will be applied to the proposed 
interconnection.
    The best management practices and mitigation measures in the Final 
EIS reflect all practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental 
harm from the proposed Project and Western's proposed action.

Decision

    Western's decision is to allow Basin Electric's request for 
interconnection to Western's Williston Substation and its Williston to 
Charlie Creek 230-kV transmission line.\2\ Western's decision to grant 
this interconnection request satisfies the agency's statutory mission 
and Basin Electric's objectives while minimizing harm to the 
environment. Full implementation of this decision is contingent upon 
Basin Electric obtaining all other applicable permits and approvals as 
well as executing an interconnection agreement in accordance with 
Western's General Requirements for Interconnection.
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    \2\ On November 16, 2011, DOE's Acting General Counsel delegated 
to Western's Administrator all the authorities of the General 
Counsel respecting environmental impact statements.
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    This decision is based on the information contained in the Antelope 
Valley Station to Neset Transmission Project Final EIS. This ROD was 
prepared pursuant to the requirements of the Council on Environmental 
Quality Regulations for Implementing NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508) and 
DOE's Procedures for Implementing NEPA (10 CFR part 1021).

    Dated: November 21, 2014.
Mark A. Gabriel,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2014-28721 Filed 12-5-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6450-01-P