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Economic and dam related articles

Spinning the Color Wheel
for a 'Green' Alternative

by Editorial Board
Tri-City Herald, January 28, 2011

For the sake of wind turbines, Bonneville Power Administration is talking about stretching more gigantic power lines across the Columbia River.

In the Columbia River Gorge.

This makes it official: Nothing is sacred anymore.

If the federally designated National Scenic Area can't hold off the BPA's mighty wire weavers, nothing is left to be saved just because it looks so good in its natural state.

Native Americans, who cherish the way a rock looks against the sky or a low smooth hill in a valley, must be aghast once again at what we do to this beautiful country.

BPA says new transmission lines are necessary to serve the wind turbines near Goldendale.

Opposing the mixture of turbines and transmission lines became a lost cause as the turbines gathered the coveted "green" title.

Interesting concept, that green.

As long as it doesn't smoke, apparently, it's green, no matter what it looks like.

Some Tri-Citians apparently like the look of the road from here to Walla Walla now, with turbines bristling like spines on a porcupine.

Others do not.

By the time BPA starts stretching those cables across the Columbia from near The Dalles to a point near Goldendale, we expect cries of visual pollution to be heard from both sides of the river.

The cost of burying the lines, along essentially the same route, has been considered by BPA, we're told. But it isn't feasible.

In the first place, the act of burying the lines would be costly. Add to that the need to keep the lines cool underground, the difficulty in locating exactly where a potential problem lies beneath the surface and the extended outages that would result in case of a line failure, and BPA feels its ratepayers might object.

Putting a 500-kilovolt transmission line underground is considerably harder to do than burying your local PUD neighborhood line, according to the federal agency.

BPA's website lays out the plan:

"BPA is proposing to build a new 500-kilovolt (kV) transmission line and substation in Wasco County, Oregon, and Klickitat County, Washington. The new BPA transmission line would extend generally northeast from BPA's existing Big Eddy Substation in The Dalles, Ore., to a new substation (Knight Substation) proposed to be connected to an existing BPA line about four miles northwest of Goldendale.

"To make an informed decision on whether to build the line and substation, and to understand the impacts of the alternatives, BPA is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)."

It is unclear exactly how Bonneville Power expects an Environmental Impact Statement to comply with the strictures of the required integrated environmental planning assessment, which requires that attention be paid to visual considerations.

Perhaps, because "green" as an environmental designation is proving so imprecise, we should modify the color coding that the Department of Homeland Security soon will be dropping.

Rather than green, perhaps stringing giant cables across a scenic attraction that is famous worldwide should be called chartreuse.

That is, a kind of garish green that almost no one thinks of as a "natural" color.

Editorial Board
Spinning the Color Wheel for a 'Green' Alternative
Tri-City Herald, January 28, 2011

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