The U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho Operations Office is inviting the public to comment on a draft environmental assessment that proposes to expand the capabilities of Idaho National Laboratory’s Power Grid Test Bed. According to the DOE, the test bed supports research, development and testing activities to improve the safety, security and resilience of the U.S. electrical grid.

DOE is proposing to construct a new 16.5-mile, 138-kilovolt overhead electrical line on the 890-square-mile INL desert site, east of Arco. The new transmission line would consist of about 300 power poles next to an existing transmission line. It would run from INL’s Central Facilities Area through the Critical Infrastructure Test Range Complex and end at the Materials and Fuels Complex.

The new power line would provide uninterrupted power for INL site facilities. Currently, researchers conducting experiments must disable and isolate an existing power line to conduct their work. The existing line would provide engineers and research scientists with a dedicated transmission line for conducting energized experiments and testing to support U.S. national security missions. The proposed action would support current and anticipated future use on INL’s Power Grid Test Bed.

In addition to the power line, DOE’s Idaho Office plans to increase the size of fencing around a nearby substation to support larger equipment necessary for the addition of the power line. Several gravel test pads located at various points along the pathway of the transmission line will be constructed or modified to support testing of power grid equipment, including diesel generators, transformers, circuit breakers, switchgear, load banks, instrumentation and battery trailers.

The document, titled the “Draft Environmental Assessment for Expanding Capabilities at the Power Grid Test Bed at Idaho National Laboratory” (DOE/EA-2097) was prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act and is posted for public review at Public Involvement Opportunities.

The 30-day public comment period on the draft environmental assessment will conclude on June 21. Comments can be submitted by mail to Jim Jardine, 1955 Fremont Ave., Idaho Falls, ID 83415-1203 or by email to pgtb@id.doe.gov. Paper copies of the document are available on request.

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