Transmission Line Could
by Ethan Schowalter-Hay
La Grande, Ore. -- Union County residents will have an opportunity Tuesday evening to hear about a new Idaho Power transmission line being proposed between southwestern Idaho and north-central Oregon.
The Boardman to Hemingway Project, as it is called, would route the 300-mile, 500-kilovolt line through Union County.
A public information and scoping meeting has been scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. at the OSU Ag Service Center at 10507 North McAlister Road in Island City.
Formal presentations will be held at both 4:30 and 5:30 p.m.
The session is part of a two-week series held in communities across the proposed path. The meetings comply with the review requirements mandated by both the National Environmental Policy Act and Energy Facility Siting processes that Idaho Power is engaged in.
The Bureau of Land Management and the Oregon Department of Energy oversee the respective procedures.
"While the BLM and ODOE have separate regulations and public processes, we wanted to ensure that the public can provide input to each of our agencies as easily as possible," said Lucas Lucero of the BLM and Adam Bless of ODOE in a press release.
"We hope that by co-hosting these meetings, we will help the public understand the proposed project and how they can participate in both the BLM and ODOE processes."
A new line would increase Idaho Power's voltage capacity, which the company said has been at maximum during recent periods of high demand.
The sagebrush-heavy corridor would stretch from the Boardman Power Plant in Boardman to the proposed Hemingway Substation near Murphy, Idaho.
Some 86 percent of the lands involved are privately-owned, with 11 percent managed by the BLM and 2 percent by the U.S. Forest Service. The remainder is under state or other jurisdiction.
In addition to Union County, the transmission line would cross Morrow, Umatilla, Baker and Malheur counties in Oregon and Idaho's Payette, Canyon and Owyhee counties.
If the proposal passes muster in the permitting process, Idaho Power hopes to begin construction in January 2011. The company estimates the transmission line could be completed by June 2013.
Idaho Power services the Elkhorn Valley Wind Farm near Telocaset. Wind energy development could be affected by the installation of a new transmission line.
"This proposed project increases transport capacity, and renewable sources, such as wind, may integrate into this system," wrote Echo Chadwick of Idaho Power in an e-mail.
"This project is not specifically related to any specific generation resources. However, there is potential integration longer term for any resource generator, including wind."
Idaho Power services 24,000 square miles in southern Idaho (28 counties) and eastern Oregon (three counties). Two-thirds of its energy production derives from 17 hydroelectric plants along the Snake River and its tributaries. The three largest -- Brownlee, Oxbow and Hells Canyon -- are located at the head of Hells Canyon itself.
The BLM and ODOE are accepting comments outside the information/scoping meetings. They can be submitted online at the project website, www.boardmantohemingway.com, which also contains additional information about the proposed line.
Comments to the BLM can also be directed to Lucas Lucero at the Vale District Office
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