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Lincoln County Commission wants to move proposed high power line project that will run through Cokeville area

Lincoln County Commissioner Robert King says they have insisted to Rocky Mountain power to change the location of the proposed high power line that will run through Cokeville area.

Right now there is a line that is south of the town and the power company has suggested running one to the north. King says there just doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of sense in the proposed plan.

“As we looked at that alignment and looked at the permitting involved there,” King said. “It looks like they’re going to be going through some private properties, some pivots, sage grouse core areas.”

He says this plan will totally encircle Cokeville with power which then will not make the community very attractive.

He says after a meeting with the Bureau of Land Management they learned there were some changes in rules to power lines. Originally it had to be 1500 feet apart, but now it is only 200 feet.

“Well that allows them to put it down to the south… where the existing line is,” King said. “We’ve asked them to do exactly that.”

He says the BLM has not yet done the cultural review they have to do on that north line.

“I think there’s a really good chance of getting that line moved to the south in the existing corridor,” King said.

He also says Rocky Mountain Power is heavily investing in infrastructure right now, so the current line project has been put on hold. The power company has heavy investments in wind and solar and according to King it is about $5 billion.

“This line (the current proposed line) will probably carry renewable resource energy,” King said. “Rather than, you can call it black energy, coal-fired energy.”

He says in this last meeting with Rocky Mountain Power they discussed pumped-hyrdo. This is when they use solar or wind power to pump water into another dam somewhere. Then later they can run through the system to run power.

“And that is considered storage,” King said.

The commissioner also says the leaders of Cokeville do not want the power line to run north of the town either. There is no timeline for the completion of the project right now.

King says Rocky Mountain Power’s current plan is still to shut down Naughton Units 1 and 2 by 2025 and to convert Unit 3 to natural gas and phase that out by 2029. He warns that things can change.

“Five years is a long ways down the road for technology,” King said. “I think they’re going to find that they will need these plants to push the power down the line.”

He says it works just like water distribution. The longer you push water it loses what is called head loss or pressure.

“Same thing is true of power,” King said. “They have to push it every so often just to get it down the line.”

He says the commission speaks with Rocky Mountain Power at least once a month and will continue to keep communication open to push the county’s agenda.