Transmission Lines: Analyzing Impacts of Transmission Routes in Montana
The Western United States are rapidly moving to a clean energy economy with a heightened focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy resources. In addition to vast increases in renewable energy generation projects, a significant transmission expansion will also be needed in the region to bring large-scale wind, solar, and geothermal projects to market. In Montana, the Governor's Office of Economic Development is promoting wind energy development in the eastern plains as well as the associated transmission lines that will deliver this energy to the Southwest.
Without early and sustained engagement by counties, conservation groups, and private landowners, renewable energy and transmission lines will no doubt come into conflict with local community values. Proposed projects have already raised concerns about health and land value impacts as well as impacts to wildlife and open space.
The Craighead Institute is collaborating with the Western Environmental Law Center, Future West and the Sonoran Institute to conduct a siting analysis for transmission lines through Madison county to evaluate the 1) economic costs to the community (health, land value); 2) economic costs of various siting alternatives (rerouting, stacking, burying); and 3) environmental costs (wildlife corridors, wildlife habitat and protected areas). Beaverhead, Silver Bow, Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin Counties will be included in the analysis. In particular, the Craighead Institute will evaluate the impact of transmission routes on forest carnivore connectivity (represented by wolverine and grizzly bear).
There is no certainty for communities about which renewable energy projects and transmissions lines will come to fruition. Regardless, Madison County has a unique opportunity to lead in the development of proactive plans and analyses as to how and where renewable energy development and transmission occurs in order to minimize both economic and environmental impacts.
Craighead Institute 201 S. Wallace Street, Suite B2D, Bozeman, MT 59715 406.585.8705 www.craigheadinstitute.org