Yellowstone seeks comments on new radio towers, electrical grid upgrades

The National Park Service is seeking comments on a plan to upgrade eletrical power infrastructure in the park, including at power stations like this one at Lake.

The National Park Service is seeking comments on a plan to upgrade eletrical power infrastructure in Yellowstone National Park, including at power stations like this one at Lake.

From Staff Reports

The National Park Service is seeking public comment regarding a capital improvement plan proposed by the utility company that provides electrical service to Yellowstone National Park.

The Park Service is planning an environmental assessment to analyze impacts associated with a proposal by NorthWestern Energy to construct new radio towers in Yellowstone and make upgrades to the park’s electrical grid, according to a statement released by the park’s public affairs office.

NorthWestern Energy wants to build seven new 60-foot towers, small equipment buildings, back-up power generators, and propane fuel tanks at seven existing substation sites inside the park.

These infrastructure improvements are being proposed to provide remote computer monitoring and control of the electrical distribution system and to replace an obsolete radio communications system utility crews need when working inside Yellowstone.

Park officials said the improvements are intended to reduce the number and duration of power outages in the park, which impact the visitor experience, park operations, and visitor and employee safety, and to improve safe communications for utility crews during repair operations.

The first step in preparing an environmental assessment is to ask the public to help identify issues or concerns that park staff should consider. This process, known as public scoping, is now open and runs through June 13, 2013.

The public is encouraged to attend one of the following public meetings to learn more about the proposal:

  • Tuesday, May 21 in Cody, Wyo.: Park County Library Grizzly Hall, 1500 Heart Mountain Street
  • Wednesday, May 22 in Bozeman, Mont.:  Holiday Inn, 5 Baxter Lane East

Both open house-style meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. and are scheduled to conclude by 7:45 p.m.

Additional information on the proposal along with instructions on how to submit comments online at the National Park Service’s Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website at

Respondents are encouraged to submit their comments through the PEPC website. Comments may also be mailed to the National Park Service, Compliance Office, Attn: NorthWestern Energy Communication and Automation Plan, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190. Comments may also be hand-delivered during normal business hours to the Mailroom in the park’s Administration Building in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming.

This project will be developed in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and other applicable laws, regulations, and policies.

Comments will not be accepted by fax, e-mail, or in any other way than those specified above. Bulk comments in any format (hard copy or electronic) submitted on behalf of others will not be accepted. Comments must be received by midnight MDT, June 13, 2013.

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