Special to the Montrose Daily Press
The Forest Service has issued new transmission line permits to the United States Department of Energy’s Western Area Power Administration to reduce the threat of wildfire ignitions from transmission lines while minimizing the potential for power outages.
The permits allow for improved vegetation management along 275 miles of transmission lines on Forest Service managed lands in Colorado and Nebraska. Previously, the transmission lines were authorized under a variety of often outdated permits, which slowed the process of vegetation management. The new procedures will allow WAPA to act quickly to reduce these threats.
Vegetation management decreases hazards and improves the WAPA transmission system’s reliability by allowing modern, efficient removal of trees and brush. These WAPA maintenance operations reduce or eliminate threats to facilities and mitigate rights-of-way fuel load conditions.
The new permits help provide adequate access for maintenance, protect the public, and ensure worker safety, while minimizing impacts to the environment. Well maintained rights of way around power lines can even assist firefighters by acting as fire breaks.
In recent years, higher temperatures and drought conditions have increased the potential for large wildfires in Colorado, Nebraska, and throughout the western United States. Last year, wildfires caused considerable damage to property and the natural environment and cost federal, state, and local governments billions of dollars.
The new transmission line permits will further reduce the potential for transmission line ignition or damage during wildfires by providing a standardized framework for utility maintenance activities.
These actions help protect the natural and cultural environment, reduce the threat of wildfires, and provide better road and trail access to the transmission lines while protecting homes and community facilities such as hospitals, schools, and fire stations from power outages.