Record of Decision and Floodplain Statement of Findings for the Trinity Public Utilities District Direct Interconnection Project (DOE/EIS-0389), 5184-5189 [E8-1505]

Download as PDF sroberts on PROD1PC70 with NOTICES 5184 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 19 / Tuesday, January 29, 2008 / Notices Applicants: Trailblazer Pipeline Company. Description: Trailblazer Pipeline Company submits Original Sheet 0 and 1 et al. to FERC Gas Tariff, Fourth Revised Volume 1, to be effective 12/28/ 07. Filed Date: 01/18/2008. Accession Number: 20080123–0026. Comment Date: 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, January 30, 2008. Docket Numbers: RP08–169–000. Applicants: Dominion Cove Point LNG, LP. Description: Dominion Cove Point LNG, LP submits Eighth Revised Sheet 11 to its FERC Gas Tariff, Original Volume 1, to be effective 2/17/08. Filed Date: 01/18/2008. Accession Number: 20080123–0019. Comment Date: 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, January 30, 2008. Any person desiring to intervene or to protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission’s Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214) on or before 5 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date. It is not necessary to separately intervene again in a subdocket related to a compliance filing if you have previously intervened in the same docket. Protests will be considered by the Commission in determining the appropriate action to be taken, but will not serve to make protestants parties to the proceeding. Anyone filing a motion to intervene or protest must serve a copy of that document on the Applicant. In reference to filings initiating a new proceeding, interventions or protests submitted on or before the comment deadline need not be served on persons other than the Applicant. The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper, using the FERC Online links at http:// www.ferc.gov. To facilitate electronic service, persons with Internet access who will eFile a document and/or be listed as a contact for an intervenor must create and validate an eRegistration account using the eRegistration link. Select the eFiling link to log on and submit the intervention or protests. Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 14 copies of the intervention or protest to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First St. NE., Washington, DC 20426. The filings in the above proceedings are accessible in the Commission’s eLibrary system by clicking on the appropriate link in the above list. They VerDate Aug<31>2005 22:52 Jan 28, 2008 Jkt 214001 are also available for review in the Commission’s Public Reference Room in Washington, DC. There is an eSubscription link on the Web site that enables subscribers to receive e-mail notification when a document is added to a subscribed dockets(s). For assistance with any FERC Online service, please e-mail FERCOnlineSupport@ferc.gov. or call (866) 208–3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502–8659. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary. [FR Doc. E8–1513 Filed 1–28–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717–01–P DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Western Area Power Administration Record of Decision and Floodplain Statement of Findings for the Trinity Public Utilities District Direct Interconnection Project (DOE/EIS– 0389) Western Area Power Administration, DOE. AGENCY: ACTION: Record of Decision. SUMMARY: The Western Area Power Administration (Western) intends to construct the Trinity Public Utilities District (PUD) Direct Interconnection Project (Project) in Trinity County, California. Consumers in the Trinity PUD service area routinely experience nearly 20,000 consumer hours per year in outages, according to the Trinity PUD. In the winter, many of the outages last three to four days before power can be restored. Western’s Project would improve power system reliability in the area by providing a direct interconnection between Trinity PUD and Western’s transmission system at the Trinity Power Plant. Western proposes to remove about 5.3 miles of existing 12-kilovolt (kV) distribution line, and construct, operate, and maintain about 16 miles of new 60-kV transmission line, a three-way switching structure and associated equipment, and a new switchyard. The Project would connect to Trinity PUD’s system at its Lewiston Substation and at the new Weaverville Switchyard. Western is the lead Federal agency, and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) are cooperating agencies that participated in the preparation of the environmental impact statement (EIS). Full implementation of the decision to construct this Project is contingent upon PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 obtaining all applicable permits and approvals. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Stephen Tuggle, Natural Resources Manager, Sierra Nevada Customer Service Region N1400, Western Area Power Administration, 114 Parkshore Drive, Folsom, CA 95630–4710; telephone (916) 353–4549; e-mail tuggle@wapa.gov. Copies of the EIS are available from Mr. Tuggle. For information about the DOE National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, contact Ms. Carol M. Borgstrom, Director, Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance, GC–20, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20585, telephone (800) 472–2756. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Western prepared an environmental impact statement entitled ‘‘Environmental Impact Statement; Trinity Public Utilities District Direct Interconnection Project’’ (DOE/EIS–0389) on its proposal to construct, operate, and maintain power transmission facilities in Trinity County, California. Portions of the proposed Project would cross lands managed by the USFS, BLM, and Reclamation. Western is the lead Federal agency, as defined by 40 CFR 1501.5; USFS, BLM, and Reclamation are cooperating agencies that participated in the preparation of the EIS. The EIS is intended to satisfy the requirements of NEPA for each Federal agency’s decision related to the siting, construction, operation, and maintenance of the proposed action. The decisions to be made by Western, USFS, BLM, and Reclamation regarding the proposed action, also referred to as the Project, are quite different and specific to each agency’s needs and requirements. Therefore, each agency intends to issue a separate Record of Decision (ROD) based on the information presented in the EIS. The Trinity PUD is a small utility district in northern California serving approximately 16,000 consumers. The Trinity PUD is connected to the California Independent System Operator-controlled electrical grid by 60-kV transmission facilities owned and maintained by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). Although transmitted through the PG&E system, the Trinity PUD receives 100 percent of its power from Western. The Trinity River Division (TRD) Act provides for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the TRD facilities of the Central Valley Project, composed of the Trinity Dam, Lewiston Dam, and Clear Creek Tunnel. 69 Stat. 719 (1955). The E:\FR\FM\29JAN1.SGM 29JAN1 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 19 / Tuesday, January 29, 2008 / Notices TRD Act also authorizes Western to construct, operate, and maintain transmission facilities to deliver Federal power and to furnish energy in Trinity County. 69 Stat. 719 (1955). Consumers in the Trinity PUD service area routinely experience nearly 20,000 consumer hours per year in outages, according to the Trinity PUD. In the winter, many of the outages last three to four days before power can be restored. Restoring service is difficult because of the remote location and rough terrain. Western’s proposed Project would improve power system reliability in the area by providing a direct interconnection between Trinity PUD and Western’s transmission system at the Trinity Power Plant. Western proposes to remove about 5.3 miles of existing 12-kV distribution line, and construct, operate, and maintain about 16 miles of new 60-kV transmission line, a three-way switching structure and associated equipment, and a new switchyard. Trinity PUD will be partnering in restoring this line during emergency outages. sroberts on PROD1PC70 with NOTICES Alternatives Considered Proposed Action Western proposes to construct the Trinity PUD Direct Interconnection Project in Trinity County, California, in portions of Townships 33 and 34 North, and Ranges 8 and 9 West, Mt. Diablo Meridian. The main component of the Project would be an approximately 16mile-long, 60-kV overhead transmission line called the Trinity County Direct Interconnection, which would connect Western’s Trinity Substation to a new Weaverville Switchyard and one mile of tap line to connect to Trinity PUD’s Lewiston Substation. The proposed action would remove 5.3 miles of the existing Trinity-Lewiston 12-kV distribution line and utilize the vacated right-of-way (ROW) for the new 60-kV transmission line. New ROW would be needed for the rest of the line. At about Mile 6.5 on the transmission line, a tap line would depart from a three-way switching structure and proceed south to connect with Trinity PUD’s Lewiston Substation. The Project would terminate at a new small switchyard near State Route 299 south of Weaverville, and would connect to existing lines at that location. Use of existing access roads would be maximized, with improvements made where needed, and a total of about two miles of new short spurs would be constructed. A more detailed description of the proposed action by segment follows. For Segment 1, Western would remove the existing conductor and poles VerDate Aug<31>2005 22:52 Jan 28, 2008 Jkt 214001 for 5.3 miles of the Trinity-Lewiston 12kV distribution line. The existing cleared ROW for the Trinity PUD line would then be expanded from about 20feet wide to 80 feet to accommodate installation of the new 60-kV transmission line. Segment 1 would follow the existing ROW from Trinity Substation down river approximately 6.5 miles toward Lewiston, terminating at a steel pole three-way switching structure located about 1.5 miles west of Lewiston Dam. Segment 1 would cross the Trinity River at two locations: below the Trinity Dam and below the Lewiston Dam near the Trinity River Fish Hatchery. The existing ROW runs through the steep and rugged terrain of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, crossing ridge tops and gullies. The land in Segment 1 is primarily National Forest System land administered by the USFS, and portions of it are within the boundaries of the Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area. However, about one mile of Segment 1 is administered by Reclamation, 0.5 mile is owned by Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI), 0.25 mile is privately owned, and a small portion of the Segment crosses BLM land. For Segment 2, Western would acquire an 80-foot ROW to build a new 60-kV transmission line, approximately one mile in length, south from the threeway switching structure near Mile 6.5 to the existing Trinity PUD Lewiston Substation. The switching structure would accommodate the incoming line from Trinity Substation (Segment 1), the tap line down to the Lewiston Substation (Segment 2), and the new transmission line segment to the proposed Weaverville Switchyard (Segment 3). Segment 2 would parallel an existing Trinity PUD distribution line, which runs south along Trinity Dam Boulevard and Rush Creek Road, and along the Trinity River, to Lewiston Substation. Segment 2 crosses a mix of USFS, BLM, SPI, and other privatelyowned land. Existing access roads associated with the distribution line would be used, with newly constructed short spurs up to the new line from the existing access roads. Trinity Dam Boulevard and Rush Creek Road follow the Trinity River on the west side in this location, and the existing Trinity PUD distribution line is west of the road. The proposed tap line would be located further to the west, west of the Trinity PUD line. The Trinity PUD line would thus be between the proposed line and these roads. For Segment 3, Western would acquire an 80-foot wide ROW to build a new 60-kV transmission line from the switching structure near Mile 6.5 near PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 5185 Lewiston to a new switchyard to be constructed near Weaverville. Segment 3 would be approximately 8.5 miles long. Approximately one mile of Segment 3 would parallel the existing PG&E Cottonwood-Humboldt 115-kV Transmission Line. The Segment 3 corridor would also run through steep and rugged terrain and would closely follow an existing logging road. About 0.25 mile is owned by other private land owners. The land in Segment 3 is owned primarily by SPI and managed for timber production. The remaining land is managed by BLM. The proposed action would require new ROW and use existing and upgraded existing access roads and new, short spur roads. As part of the proposed action, Western would also construct a small 90-by-110-foot switchyard south of the town of Weaverville. Weaverville Switchyard would be located at the southern terminus of the transmission line and would be located approximately two miles south of the center of Weaverville and just east of State Route 299. The new switchyard would allow the Project to connect with the existing PG&E radial Trinity-Douglas City 60-kV Transmission Line. The existing PG&E line would be acquired by Trinity PUD. Permission to occupy the proposed Weaverville Switchyard would be initially obtained through a ROW grant from the BLM. Eventually, Western would request conveyance of the site through sale, pursuant to section 203 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA; 43 U.S.C. 1713), as applicable. Access to the proposed Weaverville Switchyard would be off State Route 299, using an abandoned section of that highway. The 60-kV new transmission line would be constructed on single wood poles ranging from 50 to 105-feet tall. The span between poles would average 350 feet, ranging from a minimum of 100 feet to a maximum of 500 feet, with some longer or shorter spans depending on topography and other factors. There would be an average of 16 pole locations per mile, with an approximate total of 261 pole locations for the entire Project. About 11 structures would be three-pole turning structures. The turning structures and approximately 95 additional single poles would be guyed with wire cable to anchors in the ground. The anchors would consist of steel screw anchors in soil, an eight-foot anchor rod with plate in fractured rock, or a grouted rod in solid rock. Anchors would be buried approximately six feet in the ground. In addition to the wood poles, up to 10 self-supporting self-rusting steel structures, directly embedded or with E:\FR\FM\29JAN1.SGM 29JAN1 5186 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 19 / Tuesday, January 29, 2008 / Notices sroberts on PROD1PC70 with NOTICES rectangular concrete foundations, may be required for large spans or for increased stability. A steel three-way switch structure would be installed near Mile 6.5, west of the Trinity River Fish Hatchery. The switch and associated operating shafts and mechanism housing would be installed on the structure. The switch structure would be constructed of Cor-ten steel, which is self-rusting to a flat, dark brown surface, resulting in a less visible structure. Other Alternatives Western considered alternatives during the Project planning process. System and route alternatives, as described below, were considered prior to defining the proposed action. Among Western’s planning objectives were to locate the new transmission line along the shortest route with the fewest landowners and to utilize existing transmission corridors and access roads to the maximum extent possible. The proposed action met the purpose and need of Western and the participating agencies. Four main system alternatives were developed that could possibly meet the objective of improving electric reliability by establishing a new direct interconnection: System Alternative 1 consisted of parallel Western and PG&E transmission lines via a new 230- to 60-kV transmission interconnection between Western’s 230-kV transmission system at Trinity Dam and near the Trinity PUD’s Douglas City 60-kV Substation. This alternative would result in an overloaded element because of the parallel connection between Western and PG&E, as well as overloads due to contingency conditions. The levels of overloading suggest that the current carrying capacity of a 60-kV transmission line would be inadequate for a configuration of this type. Increasing the equipment voltage would greatly increase Project costs; therefore, this alternative would not be feasible. This alternative would not improve the current operational concerns. System Alternative 2 was the same as Alternative 1, except that Western’s and PG&E’s transmission lines would not be operated in parallel. The two lines would be isolated via a set of disconnect switches located between PG&E’s Trinity Substation and Trinity PUD’s Mill Street Substation. This configuration would allow Trinity PUD to operate as a radial load served solely by Western’s transmission system. This alternative would result in no overloads during normal or contingency operations. However, should an outage occur on this transmission line, Trinity VerDate Aug<31>2005 22:52 Jan 28, 2008 Jkt 214001 PUD loads would be without power until Western service could be restored or until PG&E could close the switches between Trinity Substation and Mill Street Substation. Under System Alternative 3, Western’s and PG&E’s transmission lines would run in parallel via an interconnection near Western’s 230-kV J.F. Carr Substation. This design would consist of looping PG&E’s CottonwoodTrinity 115-kV transmission line into a new 230/115-kV substation in or adjacent to Western’s Carr Substation. This alternative would result in no overloads during normal operations, but it would result in severe overloads during contingency operations, suggesting that the 115-kV transmission line would have inadequate currentcarrying capacity for contingency situations. Increasing the equipment voltage would greatly increase the Project costs; therefore, this alternative was not found to be feasible. System Alternative 4 would be a pair of parallel Western and PG&E transmission lines. It would involve looping PG&E’s Cascade-Lewiston 60-kV transmission line into a new 230/60-kV substation in or adjacent to Western’s J.F. Carr 230-kV Substation. This alternative would result in overloads for both normal and contingency operations, in some cases in excess of 500 percent, suggesting that the 115-kV transmission line would have inadequate current-carrying capacity for contingency situations. Increasing the equipment voltage would also greatly increase Project costs; for these reasons this alternative would not be feasible. The system design selected for the Project was the only system alternative found to be technically viable and economically feasible. Other alternatives considered included several different routings for the Project. Four main routing alternatives were considered, which are summarized below: Routing Alternative 1 was an alternative alignment of Segment 1, from the Trinity Power Plant to the Lewiston Substation. With this alternative alignment, the line would follow along County Road 105, on the west side of the Trinity River from Trinity Dam to Lewiston Lake. There is an existing 12-kV distribution line along this route, the ‘‘Westside’’ line. However, this line is being used to serve existing residential customers in the vicinity and cannot be overbuilt with the proposed line. Overbuilding this line would cause problems for the existing customers, including a long outage time during replacement of the line. The existing 12-kV line passes over PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 mobile home residences along its route. This situation is allowed for distribution-level lines, but buildings under transmission lines are not allowed by code. The existing line is already closer to County Road 105 than the standards in the WhiskeytownShasta-Trinity National Recreation Area (36 CFR 292.13(c)(1)). A transmission line on the existing ROW or adjacent to it would not be consistent with the 150foot buffer zone established by this regulation. Additionally, a 60-kV line would require more ground clearance and would have to be built higher, requiring new ROW. This alignment would also disturb a larger amount of residential, recreational, and wildlife habitat lands than would the proposed action, and it would require additional rerouting of the line. The USFS also preferred a location of the transmission line on the east side of the Trinity River within the existing distribution line ROW, which would place it within a previously disturbed area; create less impacts to residential, recreational, and wildlife habitat lands; create less new visual resource elements; and be more consistent with USFS land management guidelines. The ‘‘Westside’’ routing option was found to be associated with a number of serious issues at the concept level, and since it offered no offsetting advantages, it was dropped from further consideration. Routing Alternative 2 is an alternative alignment of Segment 2, the tap line from Lewiston Tap to Lewiston Substation. With this alternative alignment, the tap line would follow a similar path to Segment 2 of the Project, but it would be located further west of Trinity Dam Boulevard. This option was briefly considered to potentially reduce visual impacts from Trinity Dam Boulevard. This alignment would require more clearing and access road construction and a longer tap line than would the proposed action, and would result in more impact to undisturbed and recreational land. Segment 2, as described above for the proposed action, would parallel an existing Trinity PUD distribution line along Trinity Dam Boulevard. Existing access roads would be used, thereby limiting the need for additional clearing and access road construction. The route would also be shorter than for Routing Alternative 2. The USFS preferred a more eastern location of the tap line adjacent to an existing Trinity PUD line, which would place it within a previously disturbed area with existing access roads; create less impact to recreational lands; and be more consistent with USFS land management guidelines. Since field investigation E:\FR\FM\29JAN1.SGM 29JAN1 sroberts on PROD1PC70 with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 19 / Tuesday, January 29, 2008 / Notices determined that the routing option did not offer improved visual screening sufficient to warrant incurring the increased disturbance impacts, this alignment alternative was not pursued further. Routing Alternative 3 is an alternative alignment of the western terminus of the line (Segment 3) that would cross further north than described for the proposed action. This alignment was initially part of the proposed action, as it would parallel the PG&E CottonwoodHumboldt 115-kV transmission line, consolidate ROWs, and utilize existing PG&E access roads. However, for the past several years, Trinity County has been considering replacing the existing Weaverville Airport with a new airport at a new location. This alternative alignment would pass through the new airport location favored by Trinity County. To avoid compromising this possible airport location, Routing Alternative 3 was dropped from further consideration. Western continued to investigate possible alternatives to the proposed action even as the Draft EIS was published. Routing Alternative 4, an underwater cable alternative that would replace Segment 1, was identified and evaluated for viability. Under this alternative, the 60-kV line would exit the Trinity Substation and immediately change into an underwater cable as it entered the Trinity River next to the substation. The underwater cable would continue downstream in the river (actually the upper reaches of Lewiston Lake), extend through most of Lewiston Lake, and exit the lake at a point nearest to the three-way switch location west of the fish hatchery. This alternative would end at the three-way switch location. Advantages of this alternative would include the elimination of both Trinity River crossings, avoidance of all the rugged terrain through the ShastaTrinity National Forest, and avoidance of impacts to terrestrial species in Segment 1. However, a number of technical issues related to laying and maintaining an underwater cable were identified. Preliminary estimates of the costs of materials indicated that underwater cable would be prohibitively expensive for small projects like the proposed action, even before the additional costs of resolving the technical issues were known. Since power system reliability is a key component of Western’s purpose and need, and the costs of this alternative were not economically feasible, the underwater alternative was determined not to be viable, and it was eliminated from further consideration. VerDate Aug<31>2005 22:52 Jan 28, 2008 Jkt 214001 No Action Alternative Under the no action alternative, no upgrades or rebuilds to the existing transmission line system would be constructed in the Trinity area, and the existing 12-kV distribution line would be left in place. For the PG&E lines currently serving the Trinity PUD load, structures and hardware would be maintained, repaired, and/or replaced as required during routine maintenance activities or in the event of emergency outages of the transmission lines. Repairs and maintenance would increase in frequency as the transmission lines aged. Implementing the no action alternative would preclude most of the anticipated effects to the environment that would be associated with the Project. Long-term adverse socioeconomic impacts might occur as a result of the no action alternative, because regional electric demands would not be met and unreliable delivery and shortages would continue to occur. Under the no action alternative, other actions and construction activities with associated adverse environmental effects could be required to improve the electric system and provide reliable electric power in the area. Ongoing maintenance activities related to the existing transmission lines, including vegetation management, would have continuing visual and environmental effects on a periodic basis. Agency Preferred Alternative After reviewing potential environmental impacts, Western identified the proposed action as the Agency Preferred Alternative. The proposed action would result in more environmental impact than the no action alternative but, with committed mitigation, no impacts were found to be significant. Public Involvement A Notice of Intent (NOI) describing the proposed action was published in the Federal Register (FR) on June 19, 2006 (71 FR 35266). The NOI announced the intent to prepare an EIS on the proposed Project, described the proposal, provided scoping meeting locations and dates, started a 30-day scoping comment period, and provided contacts for further information about the proposed Project and for submitting scoping comments. In addition to the NOI published in the FR, a local NOI newsletter was sent to everyone on the Project mailing list, which included agencies, groups, tribes, and local landowners. Advertisements were also PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 5187 published in local newspapers to announce the upcoming public scoping period and meetings and provide contacts for comments. The FR notice, the local NOI, and the newspaper ads announced a 30-day comment period for scoping the EIS. During the 30-day comment period, Western held two public scoping meetings: on July 10, 2006, at the Best Western Victorian Inn, Weaverville, California, and on July 11, 2006, at the Oxford Suites, Redding, California. Two comments were received from one commenter during the scoping period. The Project was also listed in the USFS Schedule of Proposed Actions (SOPA) beginning in April 2005. The SOPA is available online at http://www.fs.fed.us/ sopa/. The Draft EIS was circulated to Federal, State, regional, and local agencies, tribes, and interested individuals and organizations that may have wished to review and comment on it. Publication of the Draft EIS marked the beginning of a 45-day public review period that ended March 26, 2007. Western held public hearings during the Draft EIS review period on March 6, 2007, at the Best Western Victorian Inn in Weaverville, California, and on March 7, 2007, at the LaQuinta Inn in Redding California. These hearings were also announced by newspaper ads and direct mailings to the Project mailing list. The hearings were part of the Western’s continuing efforts to provide opportunities for public participation in the decision-making process. Western received 18 written comment letters that represented 16 different individuals, and public and private organizations. Two individuals also provided comments orally at the public hearing in Weaverville. No members of the public attended the hearing in Redding. A number of issues pertaining to the analyses in the Draft EIS were raised in public comments. Among these issues were: (1) Concerns regarding erosion control to prevent the sedimentation of streams as a result of construction traffic going over stream crossings, (2) Specific permitting and mitigation measures addressing such erosion, (3) Estimation of the extent of direct and cumulative impacts from the proposed Project, and (4) Analysis of impacts to the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina). These issues, along with other comments, were addressed in the Final EIS. No additional comments were received during the Final EIS waiting period. Environmental Impacts The analysis in the EIS demonstrated that the Project would have no E:\FR\FM\29JAN1.SGM 29JAN1 sroberts on PROD1PC70 with NOTICES 5188 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 19 / Tuesday, January 29, 2008 / Notices environmental impact or minor impacts on geology, land use, paleontological resources, public health and safety, socioeconomics, environmental justice, and wilderness. Temporary and lessthan-significant environmental impacts associated with construction activities were identified for air quality, noise, hazardous materials, traffic and transportation, and recreation. Potentially long-term significant environmental impacts were described for biological resources, cultural resources, soils, and water resources. For biological resources, the principal concern is for potential impacts to the northern spotted owl and its habitat, and anadromous fish species below Lewiston Dam. The USFS conducted section 7 consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and received a Biological Opinion on November 5, 2007. The Biological Opinion concluded that, compliance with the stipulated terms and conditions, the proposed action is not likely to destroy or adversely modify designated critical habitat for the northern spotted owl, and may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the northern spotted owl and bald eagle. Western conducted section 7 consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on listed anadromous fish species. With a July 11, 2007, letter, NMFS concurred with a ‘‘may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect’’ determination for the federally threatened Southern Oregon/ Northern California Coast coho salmon or its habitat, and for delineated Essential Fish Habitat for Pacific Coast salmon, which includes both coho and Chinook salmon. Cultural resources Class III surveys were conducted on the area of potential effect defined for the Project. No prehistoric sites were found, but 21 historical sites mostly associated with historic mining activities were recorded. Western intends to avoid all of these sites to the extent possible, but two sites may be impacted by the Project. Western will mitigate impacts on any historic properties that may be adversely affected in consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and affected land management agencies. A signed Programmatic Agreement among Western, the Federal land management agencies, and the SHPO will govern any remaining section 106 consultation activities, including any change in anticipated Project impacts or new cultural resources discoveries made during construction. For soils, the main concern is sedimentation from disturbed areas. The VerDate Aug<31>2005 22:52 Jan 28, 2008 Jkt 214001 Project has been designed to minimize ground disturbance by using existing ROW, using existing access roads, locating new ROW adjacent to existing access roads, and by limiting the need for new temporary access roads. The Federal land management agencies have extensive experience with erosion control, and have developed standard environmental protection measures found to be effective in minimizing erosion in the local area. These measures are described and committed to in the EIS, and would prevent significant erosion from occurring. In addition, a cumulative watershed analysis was conducted and is included in the EIS. Access road improvements on existing access roads, such as grading ruts and installing water bars to Federal land management agency standards, may actually reduce current levels of erosion and sedimentation from this source. Water resources concerns are directly related to erosion and sedimentation. Limiting erosion and sedimentation as discussed above will minimize the risk of sediment input into water bodies. Crossings of drainages and streams will be coordinated with and permitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and State Regional Water Quality Control Board, and Western will comply with any conditions specified in those permits. In addition, the Federal land management agencies have drainage crossing requirements and best management practices that will govern crossings in their respective jurisdictions. In general, Western’s approach will be to limit any disturbance in drainage crossings to the minimum necessary for safe equipment passage. In most cases, access will be via existing access roads that have low water crossings. Construction, operation, and maintenance would be in compliance with the requirements of the USFS, BLM, Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and State Regional Water Quality Control Board. All of these agencies have specific requirements as part of their respective approval and permitting processes. In addition, the EIS identified extensive best management practices and mitigation measures, all of which are committed to with this ROD and Western’s Mitigation Action Plan (MAP). With implementation of these requirements and measures, all identified potential impacts would be reduced to less-thansignificant levels. Mitigation Measures All measures identified in the EIS to minimize impacts from the transmission PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 system additions have been adopted. Table 2–2 in section 2.6.1 of the EIS includes an extensive listing of specific mitigation measures by resource. In addition, sections 2.6.2, 2.6.3, 2.6.4, and 2.6.5 of the EIS list the environmental protection measures of Western, USFS, BLM, and Reclamation, respectively. Many of these mitigation measures and environmental protection measures are related to the four most sensitive resources discussed above. All of these measures have been consolidated into Western’s MAP, which assigns responsibility for and tracks the implementation of these commitments. The MAP also includes expected terms and conditions for the various permits necessary for the Project, such as the 28 general conditions for a Nationwide 12 section 404 permit. Western is the lead Federal agency for compliance with section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. Western’s preferred form of mitigation is to avoid all identified sites. To the extent possible, cultural sites determined eligible for the National Register in consultation with the California SHPO and interested tribes will be avoided by Project activities. Cultural sites that cannot be avoided will be mitigated in accordance with the Programmatic Agreement developed for the proposed Project, which will govern all remaining activities necessary for section 106 compliance. The USFS is the lead Federal agency for compliance with section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, as amended. A biological assessment was prepared and submitted to the USFWS with a determination that the Project ‘‘may affect but is not likely to adversely affect’’ any candidate, proposed, or listed species. The USFWS Biological Opinion of November 5, 2007, includes terms and conditions which will be complied with as additional mitigation to avoid impacts to threatened, endangered, candidate, or proposed species. Floodplain Statement of Findings In accordance with 10 CFR part 1022, Western considered the potential impacts of the Project on floodplains and wetlands. The Project area is located in a mountainous region with incised drainage channels and some permanent streams. The transmission line in Segment 2 would span the 100year floodplain of Rush Creek. Rush Creek at this location is considered Zone A, a special flood hazard area inundated by 100-year floods. No base flood elevations have been determined for this location. The 500-year floodplain areas are located south of the E:\FR\FM\29JAN1.SGM 29JAN1 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 19 / Tuesday, January 29, 2008 / Notices Project ROW, also along Rush Creek. All remaining portions of the Project ROW are located in Zone X, areas determined to be outside the 500-year floodplain. Construction of the Project would not substantially alter the normal drainage patterns or affect runoff rates because drainage patterns would not be altered, use of existing roads would be maximized, and the line would span the floodplains. Even if poles were to be located in a floodplain area, they would not contribute to the impedance of flood flows in this heavily forested area. No wetlands would be affected by the construction or operation of the Project. Mitigation Action Plan A MAP will be developed in accordance with 10 CFR 1021.331 that addresses mitigation commitments described above. The MAP will explain how the mitigation will be planned and implemented and will be available upon request. Decision Western’s decision is to construct the Trinity PUD Direct Interconnection Project as described above and in the EIS. Western will construct, own, operate, and maintain the transmission line and associated facilities. This decision is based on the information contained in the ‘‘Environmental Impact Statement; Trinity Public Utilities District Direct Interconnection Project’’ (DOE/EIS– 0389); (Draft EIS issued February 2007, and Final issued November 2007). This ROD has been prepared in accordance with Council on Environmental Quality regulations for implementing NEPA (40 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] parts 1500–1508) and DOE Procedures for Implementing NEPA (10 CFR part 1021), and DOE’s Floodplain/Wetland Review Requirements (10 CFR 1022). Full implementation of this decision is contingent upon the Project obtaining all applicable permits and approvals. Dated: January 15, 2008. Timothy J. Meeks, Administrator. [FR Doc. E8–1505 Filed 1–28–08; 8:45 am] holding company. The factors that are considered in acting on the notices are set forth in paragraph 7 of the Act (12 U.S.C. 1817(j)(7)). The notices are available for immediate inspection at the Federal Reserve Bank indicated. The notices also will be available for inspection at the office of the Board of Governors. Interested persons may express their views in writing to the Reserve Bank indicated for that notice or to the offices of the Board of Governors. Comments must be received not later than February 13, 2008. A. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis (Jacqueline G. King, Community Affairs Officer) 90 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55480–0291: 1. Lawrence W. Jochim Revocable Trust, Lawrence W. Jochim as trustee and individually; Cindy Jochim and Richard Jochim, all of Bigfork, Montana; Todd Jochim, Lakeside, Montana; Lesley Jungers, Seeley Lake, Montana; Karla Langlois, Missoula, Montana; and Marcus Jochim and Beverly Jochim, both of Inverness, Montana, acting as a group in concert, to increase the voting control of Flathead Holding Company of Bigfork, Montana, and its subsidiary Flathead Bank of Bigfork, Bigfork, Montana. 2. Gib S. Nichols Living Trust and Sarah E. Nichols Living Trust, Gib Nichols and Sarah Nichols as trustees of each trust and individually, Vancouver, Washington; James Brendan Nichols, West Linn, Oregon; Shaun Nichols, Tucson, Arizona; Norris D. Nichols, Helena, Montana; Karyl Arndt, Aurora, Colorado; and Roseanne Heser, Mahtomedi, Minnesota, acting as a group in concert, also have applied to increase voting control of Flathead Holding Company of Bigfork, Bigfork, Montana, and its subsidiary Flathead Bank of Bigfork, Bigfork, Montana. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, January 24, 2008. Robert deV. Frierson, Deputy Secretary of the Board. [FR Doc. E8–1500 Filed 1–28–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6210–01–S BILLING CODE 6450–01–P FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM sroberts on PROD1PC70 with NOTICES FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM Sunshine Act Meeting Change in Bank Control Notices; Acquisition of Shares of Bank or Bank Holding Companies The notificants listed below have applied under the Change in Bank Control Act (12 U.S.C. 1817(j)) and § 225.41 of the Board’s Regulation Y (12 CFR 225.41) to acquire a bank or bank VerDate Aug<31>2005 22:52 Jan 28, 2008 Jkt 214001 Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. TIME AND DATE: 12 p.m., Monday, January 28, 2008. PLACE: Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building, 20th and C Streets, NW., Washington, DC 20551. AGENCY HOLDING THE MEETING: PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 STATUS: 5189 Closed. MATTERS TO BE CONSIDERED: 1. Personnel actions (appointments, promotions, assignments, reassignments, and salary actions) involving individual Federal Reserve System employees. 2. Any items carried forward from a previously announced meeting. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michelle Smith, Director, or Dave Skidmore, Assistant to the Board, Office of Board Members at 202–452–2955. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: You may call 202–452–3206 beginning at approximately 5 p.m. two business days before the meeting for a recorded announcement of bank and bank holding company applications scheduled for the meeting; or you may contact the Board’s Web site at http:// www.federalreserve.gov for an electronic announcement that not only lists applications, but also indicates procedural and other information about the meeting. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, January 18, 2008. Robert deV. Frierson, Deputy Secretary of the Board. [FR Doc. 08–408 Filed 1–25–08; 1:59 pm] BILLING CODE 6210–01–S FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM Notice of Proposals to Engage in Permissible Nonbanking Activities or to Acquire Companies that are Engaged in Permissible Nonbanking Activities The companies listed in this notice have given notice under section 4 of the Bank Holding Company Act (12 U.S.C. 1843) (BHC Act) and Regulation Y (12 CFR Part 225) to engage de novo, or to acquire or control voting securities or assets of a company, including the companies listed below, that engages either directly or through a subsidiary or other company, in a nonbanking activity that is listed in § 225.28 of Regulation Y (12 CFR 225.28) or that the Board has determined by Order to be closely related to banking and permissible for bank holding companies. Unless otherwise noted, these activities will be conducted throughout the United States. Each notice is available for inspection at the Federal Reserve Bank indicated. The notice also will be available for inspection at the offices of the Board of Governors. Interested persons may express their views in writing on the question whether the proposal complies with the standards of section 4 of the BHC Act. Additional information on all E:\FR\FM\29JAN1.SGM 29JAN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 19 (Tuesday, January 29, 2008)]
[Notices]
[Pages 5184-5189]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-1505]


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DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

Western Area Power Administration


Record of Decision and Floodplain Statement of Findings for the 
Trinity Public Utilities District Direct Interconnection Project (DOE/
EIS-0389)

AGENCY: Western Area Power Administration, DOE.

ACTION: Record of Decision.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Western Area Power Administration (Western) intends to 
construct the Trinity Public Utilities District (PUD) Direct 
Interconnection Project (Project) in Trinity County, California. 
Consumers in the Trinity PUD service area routinely experience nearly 
20,000 consumer hours per year in outages, according to the Trinity 
PUD. In the winter, many of the outages last three to four days before 
power can be restored. Western's Project would improve power system 
reliability in the area by providing a direct interconnection between 
Trinity PUD and Western's transmission system at the Trinity Power 
Plant. Western proposes to remove about 5.3 miles of existing 12-
kilovolt (kV) distribution line, and construct, operate, and maintain 
about 16 miles of new 60-kV transmission line, a three-way switching 
structure and associated equipment, and a new switchyard. The Project 
would connect to Trinity PUD's system at its Lewiston Substation and at 
the new Weaverville Switchyard. Western is the lead Federal agency, and 
the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), 
and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) are cooperating agencies 
that participated in the preparation of the environmental impact 
statement (EIS). Full implementation of the decision to construct this 
Project is contingent upon obtaining all applicable permits and 
approvals.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Stephen Tuggle, Natural Resources 
Manager, Sierra Nevada Customer Service Region N1400, Western Area 
Power Administration, 114 Parkshore Drive, Folsom, CA 95630-4710; 
telephone (916) 353-4549; e-mail tuggle@wapa.gov. Copies of the EIS are 
available from Mr. Tuggle. For information about the DOE National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, contact Ms. Carol M. 
Borgstrom, Director, Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance, GC-20, U.S. 
Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 
20585, telephone (800) 472-2756.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Western prepared an environmental impact 
statement entitled ``Environmental Impact Statement; Trinity Public 
Utilities District Direct Interconnection Project'' (DOE/EIS-0389) on 
its proposal to construct, operate, and maintain power transmission 
facilities in Trinity County, California. Portions of the proposed 
Project would cross lands managed by the USFS, BLM, and Reclamation. 
Western is the lead Federal agency, as defined by 40 CFR 1501.5; USFS, 
BLM, and Reclamation are cooperating agencies that participated in the 
preparation of the EIS. The EIS is intended to satisfy the requirements 
of NEPA for each Federal agency's decision related to the siting, 
construction, operation, and maintenance of the proposed action. The 
decisions to be made by Western, USFS, BLM, and Reclamation regarding 
the proposed action, also referred to as the Project, are quite 
different and specific to each agency's needs and requirements. 
Therefore, each agency intends to issue a separate Record of Decision 
(ROD) based on the information presented in the EIS.
    The Trinity PUD is a small utility district in northern California 
serving approximately 16,000 consumers. The Trinity PUD is connected to 
the California Independent System Operator-controlled electrical grid 
by 60-kV transmission facilities owned and maintained by Pacific Gas 
and Electric Company (PG&E). Although transmitted through the PG&E 
system, the Trinity PUD receives 100 percent of its power from Western. 
The Trinity River Division (TRD) Act provides for the construction, 
operation, and maintenance of the TRD facilities of the Central Valley 
Project, composed of the Trinity Dam, Lewiston Dam, and Clear Creek 
Tunnel. 69 Stat. 719 (1955). The

[[Page 5185]]

TRD Act also authorizes Western to construct, operate, and maintain 
transmission facilities to deliver Federal power and to furnish energy 
in Trinity County. 69 Stat. 719 (1955).
    Consumers in the Trinity PUD service area routinely experience 
nearly 20,000 consumer hours per year in outages, according to the 
Trinity PUD. In the winter, many of the outages last three to four days 
before power can be restored. Restoring service is difficult because of 
the remote location and rough terrain.
    Western's proposed Project would improve power system reliability 
in the area by providing a direct interconnection between Trinity PUD 
and Western's transmission system at the Trinity Power Plant. Western 
proposes to remove about 5.3 miles of existing 12-kV distribution line, 
and construct, operate, and maintain about 16 miles of new 60-kV 
transmission line, a three-way switching structure and associated 
equipment, and a new switchyard. Trinity PUD will be partnering in 
restoring this line during emergency outages.

Alternatives Considered

Proposed Action

    Western proposes to construct the Trinity PUD Direct 
Interconnection Project in Trinity County, California, in portions of 
Townships 33 and 34 North, and Ranges 8 and 9 West, Mt. Diablo 
Meridian. The main component of the Project would be an approximately 
16-mile-long, 60-kV overhead transmission line called the Trinity 
County Direct Interconnection, which would connect Western's Trinity 
Substation to a new Weaverville Switchyard and one mile of tap line to 
connect to Trinity PUD's Lewiston Substation. The proposed action would 
remove 5.3 miles of the existing Trinity-Lewiston 12-kV distribution 
line and utilize the vacated right-of-way (ROW) for the new 60-kV 
transmission line. New ROW would be needed for the rest of the line. At 
about Mile 6.5 on the transmission line, a tap line would depart from a 
three-way switching structure and proceed south to connect with Trinity 
PUD's Lewiston Substation. The Project would terminate at a new small 
switchyard near State Route 299 south of Weaverville, and would connect 
to existing lines at that location. Use of existing access roads would 
be maximized, with improvements made where needed, and a total of about 
two miles of new short spurs would be constructed. A more detailed 
description of the proposed action by segment follows.
    For Segment 1, Western would remove the existing conductor and 
poles for 5.3 miles of the Trinity-Lewiston 12-kV distribution line. 
The existing cleared ROW for the Trinity PUD line would then be 
expanded from about 20-feet wide to 80 feet to accommodate installation 
of the new 60-kV transmission line. Segment 1 would follow the existing 
ROW from Trinity Substation down river approximately 6.5 miles toward 
Lewiston, terminating at a steel pole three-way switching structure 
located about 1.5 miles west of Lewiston Dam. Segment 1 would cross the 
Trinity River at two locations: below the Trinity Dam and below the 
Lewiston Dam near the Trinity River Fish Hatchery. The existing ROW 
runs through the steep and rugged terrain of the Shasta-Trinity 
National Forest, crossing ridge tops and gullies. The land in Segment 1 
is primarily National Forest System land administered by the USFS, and 
portions of it are within the boundaries of the Shasta-Trinity National 
Recreation Area. However, about one mile of Segment 1 is administered 
by Reclamation, 0.5 mile is owned by Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI), 
0.25 mile is privately owned, and a small portion of the Segment 
crosses BLM land.
    For Segment 2, Western would acquire an 80-foot ROW to build a new 
60-kV transmission line, approximately one mile in length, south from 
the three-way switching structure near Mile 6.5 to the existing Trinity 
PUD Lewiston Substation. The switching structure would accommodate the 
incoming line from Trinity Substation (Segment 1), the tap line down to 
the Lewiston Substation (Segment 2), and the new transmission line 
segment to the proposed Weaverville Switchyard (Segment 3). Segment 2 
would parallel an existing Trinity PUD distribution line, which runs 
south along Trinity Dam Boulevard and Rush Creek Road, and along the 
Trinity River, to Lewiston Substation. Segment 2 crosses a mix of USFS, 
BLM, SPI, and other privately-owned land. Existing access roads 
associated with the distribution line would be used, with newly 
constructed short spurs up to the new line from the existing access 
roads. Trinity Dam Boulevard and Rush Creek Road follow the Trinity 
River on the west side in this location, and the existing Trinity PUD 
distribution line is west of the road. The proposed tap line would be 
located further to the west, west of the Trinity PUD line. The Trinity 
PUD line would thus be between the proposed line and these roads.
    For Segment 3, Western would acquire an 80-foot wide ROW to build a 
new 60-kV transmission line from the switching structure near Mile 6.5 
near Lewiston to a new switchyard to be constructed near Weaverville. 
Segment 3 would be approximately 8.5 miles long. Approximately one mile 
of Segment 3 would parallel the existing PG&E Cottonwood-Humboldt 115-
kV Transmission Line. The Segment 3 corridor would also run through 
steep and rugged terrain and would closely follow an existing logging 
road. About 0.25 mile is owned by other private land owners. The land 
in Segment 3 is owned primarily by SPI and managed for timber 
production. The remaining land is managed by BLM. The proposed action 
would require new ROW and use existing and upgraded existing access 
roads and new, short spur roads.
    As part of the proposed action, Western would also construct a 
small 90-by-110-foot switchyard south of the town of Weaverville. 
Weaverville Switchyard would be located at the southern terminus of the 
transmission line and would be located approximately two miles south of 
the center of Weaverville and just east of State Route 299. The new 
switchyard would allow the Project to connect with the existing PG&E 
radial Trinity-Douglas City 60-kV Transmission Line. The existing PG&E 
line would be acquired by Trinity PUD. Permission to occupy the 
proposed Weaverville Switchyard would be initially obtained through a 
ROW grant from the BLM. Eventually, Western would request conveyance of 
the site through sale, pursuant to section 203 of the Federal Land 
Policy and Management Act (FLPMA; 43 U.S.C. 1713), as applicable. 
Access to the proposed Weaverville Switchyard would be off State Route 
299, using an abandoned section of that highway.
    The 60-kV new transmission line would be constructed on single wood 
poles ranging from 50 to 105-feet tall. The span between poles would 
average 350 feet, ranging from a minimum of 100 feet to a maximum of 
500 feet, with some longer or shorter spans depending on topography and 
other factors. There would be an average of 16 pole locations per mile, 
with an approximate total of 261 pole locations for the entire Project. 
About 11 structures would be three-pole turning structures. The turning 
structures and approximately 95 additional single poles would be guyed 
with wire cable to anchors in the ground. The anchors would consist of 
steel screw anchors in soil, an eight-foot anchor rod with plate in 
fractured rock, or a grouted rod in solid rock. Anchors would be buried 
approximately six feet in the ground.
    In addition to the wood poles, up to 10 self-supporting self-
rusting steel structures, directly embedded or with

[[Page 5186]]

rectangular concrete foundations, may be required for large spans or 
for increased stability. A steel three-way switch structure would be 
installed near Mile 6.5, west of the Trinity River Fish Hatchery. The 
switch and associated operating shafts and mechanism housing would be 
installed on the structure. The switch structure would be constructed 
of Cor-ten steel, which is self-rusting to a flat, dark brown surface, 
resulting in a less visible structure.

Other Alternatives

    Western considered alternatives during the Project planning 
process. System and route alternatives, as described below, were 
considered prior to defining the proposed action. Among Western's 
planning objectives were to locate the new transmission line along the 
shortest route with the fewest landowners and to utilize existing 
transmission corridors and access roads to the maximum extent possible. 
The proposed action met the purpose and need of Western and the 
participating agencies.
    Four main system alternatives were developed that could possibly 
meet the objective of improving electric reliability by establishing a 
new direct interconnection:
    System Alternative 1 consisted of parallel Western and PG&E 
transmission lines via a new 230- to 60-kV transmission interconnection 
between Western's 230-kV transmission system at Trinity Dam and near 
the Trinity PUD's Douglas City 60-kV Substation. This alternative would 
result in an overloaded element because of the parallel connection 
between Western and PG&E, as well as overloads due to contingency 
conditions. The levels of overloading suggest that the current carrying 
capacity of a 60-kV transmission line would be inadequate for a 
configuration of this type. Increasing the equipment voltage would 
greatly increase Project costs; therefore, this alternative would not 
be feasible. This alternative would not improve the current operational 
concerns.
    System Alternative 2 was the same as Alternative 1, except that 
Western's and PG&E's transmission lines would not be operated in 
parallel. The two lines would be isolated via a set of disconnect 
switches located between PG&E's Trinity Substation and Trinity PUD's 
Mill Street Substation. This configuration would allow Trinity PUD to 
operate as a radial load served solely by Western's transmission 
system. This alternative would result in no overloads during normal or 
contingency operations. However, should an outage occur on this 
transmission line, Trinity PUD loads would be without power until 
Western service could be restored or until PG&E could close the 
switches between Trinity Substation and Mill Street Substation.
    Under System Alternative 3, Western's and PG&E's transmission lines 
would run in parallel via an interconnection near Western's 230-kV J.F. 
Carr Substation. This design would consist of looping PG&E's 
Cottonwood-Trinity 115-kV transmission line into a new 230/115-kV 
substation in or adjacent to Western's Carr Substation. This 
alternative would result in no overloads during normal operations, but 
it would result in severe overloads during contingency operations, 
suggesting that the 115-kV transmission line would have inadequate 
current-carrying capacity for contingency situations. Increasing the 
equipment voltage would greatly increase the Project costs; therefore, 
this alternative was not found to be feasible.
    System Alternative 4 would be a pair of parallel Western and PG&E 
transmission lines. It would involve looping PG&E's Cascade-Lewiston 
60-kV transmission line into a new 230/60-kV substation in or adjacent 
to Western's J.F. Carr 230-kV Substation. This alternative would result 
in overloads for both normal and contingency operations, in some cases 
in excess of 500 percent, suggesting that the 115-kV transmission line 
would have inadequate current-carrying capacity for contingency 
situations. Increasing the equipment voltage would also greatly 
increase Project costs; for these reasons this alternative would not be 
feasible.
    The system design selected for the Project was the only system 
alternative found to be technically viable and economically feasible.
    Other alternatives considered included several different routings 
for the Project. Four main routing alternatives were considered, which 
are summarized below:
    Routing Alternative 1 was an alternative alignment of Segment 1, 
from the Trinity Power Plant to the Lewiston Substation. With this 
alternative alignment, the line would follow along County Road 105, on 
the west side of the Trinity River from Trinity Dam to Lewiston Lake. 
There is an existing 12-kV distribution line along this route, the 
``Westside'' line. However, this line is being used to serve existing 
residential customers in the vicinity and cannot be overbuilt with the 
proposed line. Overbuilding this line would cause problems for the 
existing customers, including a long outage time during replacement of 
the line. The existing 12-kV line passes over mobile home residences 
along its route. This situation is allowed for distribution-level 
lines, but buildings under transmission lines are not allowed by code. 
The existing line is already closer to County Road 105 than the 
standards in the Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area 
(36 CFR 292.13(c)(1)). A transmission line on the existing ROW or 
adjacent to it would not be consistent with the 150-foot buffer zone 
established by this regulation. Additionally, a 60-kV line would 
require more ground clearance and would have to be built higher, 
requiring new ROW. This alignment would also disturb a larger amount of 
residential, recreational, and wildlife habitat lands than would the 
proposed action, and it would require additional rerouting of the line. 
The USFS also preferred a location of the transmission line on the east 
side of the Trinity River within the existing distribution line ROW, 
which would place it within a previously disturbed area; create less 
impacts to residential, recreational, and wildlife habitat lands; 
create less new visual resource elements; and be more consistent with 
USFS land management guidelines. The ``Westside'' routing option was 
found to be associated with a number of serious issues at the concept 
level, and since it offered no offsetting advantages, it was dropped 
from further consideration.
    Routing Alternative 2 is an alternative alignment of Segment 2, the 
tap line from Lewiston Tap to Lewiston Substation. With this 
alternative alignment, the tap line would follow a similar path to 
Segment 2 of the Project, but it would be located further west of 
Trinity Dam Boulevard. This option was briefly considered to 
potentially reduce visual impacts from Trinity Dam Boulevard. This 
alignment would require more clearing and access road construction and 
a longer tap line than would the proposed action, and would result in 
more impact to undisturbed and recreational land.
    Segment 2, as described above for the proposed action, would 
parallel an existing Trinity PUD distribution line along Trinity Dam 
Boulevard. Existing access roads would be used, thereby limiting the 
need for additional clearing and access road construction. The route 
would also be shorter than for Routing Alternative 2. The USFS 
preferred a more eastern location of the tap line adjacent to an 
existing Trinity PUD line, which would place it within a previously 
disturbed area with existing access roads; create less impact to 
recreational lands; and be more consistent with USFS land management 
guidelines. Since field investigation

[[Page 5187]]

determined that the routing option did not offer improved visual 
screening sufficient to warrant incurring the increased disturbance 
impacts, this alignment alternative was not pursued further.
    Routing Alternative 3 is an alternative alignment of the western 
terminus of the line (Segment 3) that would cross further north than 
described for the proposed action. This alignment was initially part of 
the proposed action, as it would parallel the PG&E Cottonwood-Humboldt 
115-kV transmission line, consolidate ROWs, and utilize existing PG&E 
access roads. However, for the past several years, Trinity County has 
been considering replacing the existing Weaverville Airport with a new 
airport at a new location. This alternative alignment would pass 
through the new airport location favored by Trinity County. To avoid 
compromising this possible airport location, Routing Alternative 3 was 
dropped from further consideration.
    Western continued to investigate possible alternatives to the 
proposed action even as the Draft EIS was published. Routing 
Alternative 4, an underwater cable alternative that would replace 
Segment 1, was identified and evaluated for viability. Under this 
alternative, the 60-kV line would exit the Trinity Substation and 
immediately change into an underwater cable as it entered the Trinity 
River next to the substation. The underwater cable would continue 
downstream in the river (actually the upper reaches of Lewiston Lake), 
extend through most of Lewiston Lake, and exit the lake at a point 
nearest to the three-way switch location west of the fish hatchery. 
This alternative would end at the three-way switch location.
    Advantages of this alternative would include the elimination of 
both Trinity River crossings, avoidance of all the rugged terrain 
through the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, and avoidance of impacts to 
terrestrial species in Segment 1. However, a number of technical issues 
related to laying and maintaining an underwater cable were identified. 
Preliminary estimates of the costs of materials indicated that 
underwater cable would be prohibitively expensive for small projects 
like the proposed action, even before the additional costs of resolving 
the technical issues were known. Since power system reliability is a 
key component of Western's purpose and need, and the costs of this 
alternative were not economically feasible, the underwater alternative 
was determined not to be viable, and it was eliminated from further 
consideration.

No Action Alternative

    Under the no action alternative, no upgrades or rebuilds to the 
existing transmission line system would be constructed in the Trinity 
area, and the existing 12-kV distribution line would be left in place. 
For the PG&E lines currently serving the Trinity PUD load, structures 
and hardware would be maintained, repaired, and/or replaced as required 
during routine maintenance activities or in the event of emergency 
outages of the transmission lines. Repairs and maintenance would 
increase in frequency as the transmission lines aged.
    Implementing the no action alternative would preclude most of the 
anticipated effects to the environment that would be associated with 
the Project. Long-term adverse socioeconomic impacts might occur as a 
result of the no action alternative, because regional electric demands 
would not be met and unreliable delivery and shortages would continue 
to occur.
    Under the no action alternative, other actions and construction 
activities with associated adverse environmental effects could be 
required to improve the electric system and provide reliable electric 
power in the area. Ongoing maintenance activities related to the 
existing transmission lines, including vegetation management, would 
have continuing visual and environmental effects on a periodic basis.

Agency Preferred Alternative

    After reviewing potential environmental impacts, Western identified 
the proposed action as the Agency Preferred Alternative. The proposed 
action would result in more environmental impact than the no action 
alternative but, with committed mitigation, no impacts were found to be 
significant.

Public Involvement

    A Notice of Intent (NOI) describing the proposed action was 
published in the Federal Register (FR) on June 19, 2006 (71 FR 35266). 
The NOI announced the intent to prepare an EIS on the proposed Project, 
described the proposal, provided scoping meeting locations and dates, 
started a 30-day scoping comment period, and provided contacts for 
further information about the proposed Project and for submitting 
scoping comments. In addition to the NOI published in the FR, a local 
NOI newsletter was sent to everyone on the Project mailing list, which 
included agencies, groups, tribes, and local landowners. Advertisements 
were also published in local newspapers to announce the upcoming public 
scoping period and meetings and provide contacts for comments.
    The FR notice, the local NOI, and the newspaper ads announced a 30-
day comment period for scoping the EIS. During the 30-day comment 
period, Western held two public scoping meetings: on July 10, 2006, at 
the Best Western Victorian Inn, Weaverville, California, and on July 
11, 2006, at the Oxford Suites, Redding, California. Two comments were 
received from one commenter during the scoping period. The Project was 
also listed in the USFS Schedule of Proposed Actions (SOPA) beginning 
in April 2005. The SOPA is available online at http://www.fs.fed.us/
sopa/.
    The Draft EIS was circulated to Federal, State, regional, and local 
agencies, tribes, and interested individuals and organizations that may 
have wished to review and comment on it. Publication of the Draft EIS 
marked the beginning of a 45-day public review period that ended March 
26, 2007. Western held public hearings during the Draft EIS review 
period on March 6, 2007, at the Best Western Victorian Inn in 
Weaverville, California, and on March 7, 2007, at the LaQuinta Inn in 
Redding California. These hearings were also announced by newspaper ads 
and direct mailings to the Project mailing list. The hearings were part 
of the Western's continuing efforts to provide opportunities for public 
participation in the decision-making process. Western received 18 
written comment letters that represented 16 different individuals, and 
public and private organizations. Two individuals also provided 
comments orally at the public hearing in Weaverville. No members of the 
public attended the hearing in Redding.
    A number of issues pertaining to the analyses in the Draft EIS were 
raised in public comments. Among these issues were: (1) Concerns 
regarding erosion control to prevent the sedimentation of streams as a 
result of construction traffic going over stream crossings, (2) 
Specific permitting and mitigation measures addressing such erosion, 
(3) Estimation of the extent of direct and cumulative impacts from the 
proposed Project, and (4) Analysis of impacts to the northern spotted 
owl (Strix occidentalis caurina). These issues, along with other 
comments, were addressed in the Final EIS. No additional comments were 
received during the Final EIS waiting period.

Environmental Impacts

    The analysis in the EIS demonstrated that the Project would have no

[[Page 5188]]

environmental impact or minor impacts on geology, land use, 
paleontological resources, public health and safety, socioeconomics, 
environmental justice, and wilderness. Temporary and less-than-
significant environmental impacts associated with construction 
activities were identified for air quality, noise, hazardous materials, 
traffic and transportation, and recreation. Potentially long-term 
significant environmental impacts were described for biological 
resources, cultural resources, soils, and water resources.
    For biological resources, the principal concern is for potential 
impacts to the northern spotted owl and its habitat, and anadromous 
fish species below Lewiston Dam. The USFS conducted section 7 
consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and 
received a Biological Opinion on November 5, 2007. The Biological 
Opinion concluded that, compliance with the stipulated terms and 
conditions, the proposed action is not likely to destroy or adversely 
modify designated critical habitat for the northern spotted owl, and 
may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the northern spotted 
owl and bald eagle. Western conducted section 7 consultation with the 
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on listed anadromous fish 
species. With a July 11, 2007, letter, NMFS concurred with a ``may 
affect, but is not likely to adversely affect'' determination for the 
federally threatened Southern Oregon/Northern California Coast coho 
salmon or its habitat, and for delineated Essential Fish Habitat for 
Pacific Coast salmon, which includes both coho and Chinook salmon.
    Cultural resources Class III surveys were conducted on the area of 
potential effect defined for the Project. No prehistoric sites were 
found, but 21 historical sites mostly associated with historic mining 
activities were recorded. Western intends to avoid all of these sites 
to the extent possible, but two sites may be impacted by the Project. 
Western will mitigate impacts on any historic properties that may be 
adversely affected in consultation with the State Historic Preservation 
Office (SHPO) and affected land management agencies. A signed 
Programmatic Agreement among Western, the Federal land management 
agencies, and the SHPO will govern any remaining section 106 
consultation activities, including any change in anticipated Project 
impacts or new cultural resources discoveries made during construction.
    For soils, the main concern is sedimentation from disturbed areas. 
The Project has been designed to minimize ground disturbance by using 
existing ROW, using existing access roads, locating new ROW adjacent to 
existing access roads, and by limiting the need for new temporary 
access roads. The Federal land management agencies have extensive 
experience with erosion control, and have developed standard 
environmental protection measures found to be effective in minimizing 
erosion in the local area. These measures are described and committed 
to in the EIS, and would prevent significant erosion from occurring. In 
addition, a cumulative watershed analysis was conducted and is included 
in the EIS. Access road improvements on existing access roads, such as 
grading ruts and installing water bars to Federal land management 
agency standards, may actually reduce current levels of erosion and 
sedimentation from this source.
    Water resources concerns are directly related to erosion and 
sedimentation. Limiting erosion and sedimentation as discussed above 
will minimize the risk of sediment input into water bodies. Crossings 
of drainages and streams will be coordinated with and permitted by the 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and State Regional Water Quality Control 
Board, and Western will comply with any conditions specified in those 
permits. In addition, the Federal land management agencies have 
drainage crossing requirements and best management practices that will 
govern crossings in their respective jurisdictions. In general, 
Western's approach will be to limit any disturbance in drainage 
crossings to the minimum necessary for safe equipment passage. In most 
cases, access will be via existing access roads that have low water 
crossings.
    Construction, operation, and maintenance would be in compliance 
with the requirements of the USFS, BLM, Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers, and State Regional Water Quality Control Board. All of these 
agencies have specific requirements as part of their respective 
approval and permitting processes. In addition, the EIS identified 
extensive best management practices and mitigation measures, all of 
which are committed to with this ROD and Western's Mitigation Action 
Plan (MAP). With implementation of these requirements and measures, all 
identified potential impacts would be reduced to less-than-significant 
levels.

Mitigation Measures

    All measures identified in the EIS to minimize impacts from the 
transmission system additions have been adopted. Table 2-2 in section 
2.6.1 of the EIS includes an extensive listing of specific mitigation 
measures by resource. In addition, sections 2.6.2, 2.6.3, 2.6.4, and 
2.6.5 of the EIS list the environmental protection measures of Western, 
USFS, BLM, and Reclamation, respectively. Many of these mitigation 
measures and environmental protection measures are related to the four 
most sensitive resources discussed above. All of these measures have 
been consolidated into Western's MAP, which assigns responsibility for 
and tracks the implementation of these commitments. The MAP also 
includes expected terms and conditions for the various permits 
necessary for the Project, such as the 28 general conditions for a 
Nationwide 12 section 404 permit.
    Western is the lead Federal agency for compliance with section 106 
of the National Historic Preservation Act. Western's preferred form of 
mitigation is to avoid all identified sites. To the extent possible, 
cultural sites determined eligible for the National Register in 
consultation with the California SHPO and interested tribes will be 
avoided by Project activities. Cultural sites that cannot be avoided 
will be mitigated in accordance with the Programmatic Agreement 
developed for the proposed Project, which will govern all remaining 
activities necessary for section 106 compliance.
    The USFS is the lead Federal agency for compliance with section 7 
of the Endangered Species Act, as amended. A biological assessment was 
prepared and submitted to the USFWS with a determination that the 
Project ``may affect but is not likely to adversely affect'' any 
candidate, proposed, or listed species. The USFWS Biological Opinion of 
November 5, 2007, includes terms and conditions which will be complied 
with as additional mitigation to avoid impacts to threatened, 
endangered, candidate, or proposed species.

Floodplain Statement of Findings

    In accordance with 10 CFR part 1022, Western considered the 
potential impacts of the Project on floodplains and wetlands. The 
Project area is located in a mountainous region with incised drainage 
channels and some permanent streams. The transmission line in Segment 2 
would span the 100-year floodplain of Rush Creek. Rush Creek at this 
location is considered Zone A, a special flood hazard area inundated by 
100-year floods. No base flood elevations have been determined for this 
location. The 500-year floodplain areas are located south of the

[[Page 5189]]

Project ROW, also along Rush Creek. All remaining portions of the 
Project ROW are located in Zone X, areas determined to be outside the 
500-year floodplain. Construction of the Project would not 
substantially alter the normal drainage patterns or affect runoff rates 
because drainage patterns would not be altered, use of existing roads 
would be maximized, and the line would span the floodplains. Even if 
poles were to be located in a floodplain area, they would not 
contribute to the impedance of flood flows in this heavily forested 
area. No wetlands would be affected by the construction or operation of 
the Project.

Mitigation Action Plan

    A MAP will be developed in accordance with 10 CFR 1021.331 that 
addresses mitigation commitments described above. The MAP will explain 
how the mitigation will be planned and implemented and will be 
available upon request.

Decision

    Western's decision is to construct the Trinity PUD Direct 
Interconnection Project as described above and in the EIS. Western will 
construct, own, operate, and maintain the transmission line and 
associated facilities.
    This decision is based on the information contained in the 
``Environmental Impact Statement; Trinity Public Utilities District 
Direct Interconnection Project'' (DOE/EIS-0389); (Draft EIS issued 
February 2007, and Final issued November 2007). This ROD has been 
prepared in accordance with Council on Environmental Quality 
regulations for implementing NEPA (40 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] 
parts 1500-1508) and DOE Procedures for Implementing NEPA (10 CFR part 
1021), and DOE's Floodplain/Wetland Review Requirements (10 CFR 1022). 
Full implementation of this decision is contingent upon the Project 
obtaining all applicable permits and approvals.

    Dated: January 15, 2008.
Timothy J. Meeks,
Administrator.
 [FR Doc. E8-1505 Filed 1-28-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6450-01-P