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Thursday 19 January, 2017

FAQs - The Environment and Power line and substation construction

  1. How does KETRACO determine when new facilities are necessary?

  2. How are decisions made about where to route a new transmission line?

    We are required to first look at major corridors, such as existing utility lines, roads, and railroads before considering other areas. Then we work with affected communities to balance the consideration of several factors, including engineering, environment, current and future land use, community input, and electrical needs of the system. The routes that are considered in any transmission line project are shared with the public for their comments and input. Our goal is to minimize impacts to the overall community and environment.

  3. What types of environmental sensitivities do you consider in evaluating routes?

    We gather information on wetlands, woodlands, agricultural lands, threatened and endangered species habitat, floodplains, historical, cultural and archaeological resources, state natural areas, lakes and rivers, and national and state wildlife areas, parks, wilderness areas, scenic rivers and forests. We also gather information on community characteristics and sensitive locations such as land use plans, residential areas, schools, hospitals, cemeteries, airports and flight paths, and private conservation areas.

    We identify these areas in the early stages of route evaluation and later provide a detailed characterization of the routes we formally propose in our construction application. The information above is a summary, not an exhaustive list, of data we analyze.
     

  4. Why can’t you avoid all environmentally sensitive areas?

    Unlike locating a power plant or factory that has a defined footprint in a single location, transmission line siting requires development of routes over many miles, and avoiding environmentally sensitive areas entirely is not always possible. We must put together route segments across different areas in a way that balances the cost of construction with other impacts and makes sense from an overall perspective. A desirable route is one that balances environmental factors with other considerations, such as engineering, community and landowner input.

  5. What efforts do you make to work with environmental organizations on a project?

    Early in a project, our environmental staff will collaborate with regulatory agencies, landowners, communities and other stakeholders who may be affected by our projects to understand possible concerns. We believe the involvement of a diverse group early on results in a more thoughtful and acceptable project that has consideration for environmental avoidance and protection. We meet with conservation and advocacy organizations to establish relationships, discuss concerns, and incorporate input in the route selection process. We maintain communications during the regulatory review stage to address concerns and develop site-specific mitigation efforts.

  6. How do you identify the impacts of construction on natural resources?

  7. How do you mitigate the effects of construction?

    Generally, we examine options for designing the transmission line in a way that can reduce impacts, such as using a narrower right-of- way or shorter poles. Concerns are typically site-specific. The design criteria can vary slightly depending on whether the concern is for right-of-way width (for example in a residential area) or pole height (for example near an airport.  We reach out to environmental organizations early to identify concerns, avoid them if possible, and mitigate impacts when necessary.

  8. What process does KETRACO use to minimize and mitigate environmental impacts?

    Avoiding or minimizing impacts is a high priority during routing, siting and construction. We develop plans to avoid or mitigate impacts and submit them for approval to various regulatory agencies including National Environment Management Authority (NEMA).

  9. What restoration work do you do following construction?

    Construction activities may temporarily impact local landscapes, but we inspect lands after construction to assure proper restoration. Tall-growing trees and other vegetation may need to be removed so that they don’t interfere with the safe operation of the transmission lines.

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