EASTERN OREGON– Conversations regarding the ongoing Boardway to Hemingway Project (B2H) continue.
In recent weeks the Stop B2H Coalition and the Greater Hells Canyon Council (GHCC) filed their opening brief in Federal District Court in Portland, alleging that the Bureau of Land Management (Bureau) violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in approving the Boardman to Hemingway 500kV powerline. More on that can be found here .
Since then Idaho Power has responded to questions that were presented to Elkhorn Media Group staff by groups in opposition to the project.
(Q) Why is there a need for B2H?
(A) Idaho Power customers’ peak energy use has been on an upward trend for decades. We expect that trend to continue as growth brings more people and businesses to our service area. At the same time, we are reducing our use of coal-fired power to meet customers’ needs.
We have a responsibility to provide our customers as much reliable, affordable energy as they need, when they need it. So we have to build our electrical system to meet peak demand, not just average demand. As peak demand grows and our reliance on coal shrinks, we’ll need new resources to continue meeting our customers’ needs.
For more than a decade, our long-term analysis has shown that B2H is the most cost-effective, lowest-risk way to do cover our growing peak demand. The video on this website further explains the need for B2H.
(Q) How will this impact views?
(A) We’ve followed federal permitting processes and worked with local communities to find the best route for B2H. This collaboration led to the development of both the Morgan Lake and Mill Creek alternatives in the La Grande area. People in the community have told us they prefer the Morgan Lake route over Mill Creek because it won’t be visible from La Grande. We’ll use shorter, H-frame structures instead of the standard lattice structures near the lake to reduce visibility at the recreation site.
We’ll also use shorter, H-frame structures along the stretch of B2H that runs near an existing transmission line in Baker County below the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. This will reduce visibility of the line from the interpretive center.
(Q) What about safety concerns?
(A) Idaho Power takes pride in our power line operation and maintenance practices. For decades, this has helped us maintain a safe, reliable supply of energy to our customers. We use equipment that meets or exceeds industry standards.
We work with local fire protection organizations and land management agencies like the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to operate our lines safely. When emergencies occur, we work with these groups to ensure prompt, effective response.
(Q) What are the right-of-way and easement clearances?
(A) The preferred right-of-way width across private property is 150 feet. In some cases, additional ROW width might be necessary.