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Ultimately, the goal of building new transmission lines is to transmit power from the point of supply to areas of distribution while ensuring safety, reliability, environmental impacts and economic effectiveness for the utility. Traditional siting methods used the classic approach of paper maps, field reconnaissance, and aerial photography; this process usually lacked the detailed analytical and consistent methodology needed to support the decision making for the selected route. As a result, lack of a standardized siting methodology resulted in routes that often had to be reworked multiple times resulting in schedule delays and cost overruns as additional routing problems were discovered.
The optimum route for transmission lines is generally not the shortest path between the starting and ending points. Factors that affect route selection can include: (1) technical parameters, such as slope stability/landslide potential, fault zones, potential to cross road, railway, or pipeline routes; (2) environmental considerations such as federal/state lands, cultural/historic resources, wildlife habitat, land use classifications; and (3) socioeconomic/demographic factors such as environmental justice, agricultural areas, residential considerations, and schools, churches, and cemeteries. Since each of these factors is represented by a spatial data set, use of a Geographic Information System (GIS) is utilized as the primary tool for development of the corridors.