The Boardman to Hemingway Transmission Line Project (B2H) is moving forward to meet the energy needs of the Pacific Northwest region. Since 2002, Idaho Power has regularly analyzed the need for this regional transmission connection. Analysis shows the need for the project is still strong and the project will benefit the entire area by allowing more electricity to move throughout the Pacific Northwest. In fact, B2H was identified as a priority project by the Obama Administration as part of the Interagency Rapid Response Team for Transmission.
Major permitting milestones are on the horizon for B2H. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) expects to release its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) this year. Following the federal Record of Decision, which is the next step after the final EIS, we will continue to gather information on the selected route to develop the detailed design needed for Oregon’s Energy Facility Siting Council Process.
Idaho Power continues to work with local communities, permitting agencies, and other partners and stakeholders. For example, routing variations were developed for analysis in response to comments on the draft EIS received from Union County and the County’s B2H Advisory Committee in January 2016. Similar efforts have occurred throughout Malheur, Baker, Umatilla and Morrow counties since the BLM issued their draft EIS in December 2014.
Idaho Power and its contractors are out in the field surveying plant species, bird and wildlife habitat, and cultural resources. Federal and state permitting requires this data to assess potential environmental impacts of each route alternative. We are not conducting engineering surveys to finalize locations of transmission towers or other related facilities such as roads at this time. We are also not seeking to negotiate easements with landowners right now, but will begin those conversations once necessary permits are in place.
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Idaho Power sends requests to enter property to survey lands potentially crossed by the project. We rely on each county Assessor’s office for information necessary to send requests to landowners. We respect landowners and other stakeholders and partners and do not share any information that may be considered private.
You can find more information on B2H at boardmantohemingway.com or by contacting the project team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-339-0209.
Mitch Colburn is the leader of Idaho Power’s 500-kV projects group.