The proposed Gateway West transmission line through southern Wyoming and Idaho could deliver up to 3,000 megawatts of power, including wind. But such projects require complex permitting and lengthy review processes, even as upgrading the grid becomes increasingly urgent. In 2011, the Obama administration created a "rapid response team" to help expedite clean-energy infrastructure, including Gateway and four other Western projects ("Feds attempt to speed complicated process of building power lines," HCN, 11/14/11).
On Nov. 12, the Interior Department approved the 990-mile long Gateway West line, but left the door open for the Bureau of Land Management to reject proposed sections through southwest Idaho that might impact private farmland and a national conservation area. Though it remains uncertain whether Gateway will be built in its entirety, proponents say this is an important step in a larger project: the $6 billion, 2,000-mile Energy Gateway transmission line, which could strengthen the grid in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. Gateway West is scheduled for completion by 2021.