Proposed Transmission Line Threatens Oregon National Historic Trail


Boardman to Hemingway Transmission Line – Update October 2018

 In October, the Oregon Department of Energy and Idaho Power Company will hold a series of public informational meetings on the complete application for a site certificate for the Boardman to Hemingway Transmission Line. Details provided below are for informational purposes; a formal notice will be issued on October 3rd, 2018.

 About the Project

 The Boardman to Hemingway Transmission Line is a 500-kilovolt transmission line proposed by Idaho Power Company (the applicant). The proposed transmission line is approximately 300 miles long, 273 miles of which would be in Oregon. The proposed transmission line route and alternative routes would cross five counties in Oregon: Morrow, Umatilla, Union, Baker, and Malheur.

 To construct and operate the proposed facility, Idaho Power must receive a site certificate from the Energy Facility Siting Council (EFSC). The Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) serves as staff to EFSC. On July 19, 2017, the applicant submitted an Amended Preliminary Application for Site Certificate to ODOE for the proposed facility. On September 21, 2018, ODOE sent notice to Idaho Power that the Amended Preliminary Application is complete. The filing date – the date ODOE will receive the complete application – is October 1, 2018. The formal public notice date of the complete application is October 3, 2018. ODOE and the applicant will hold a series of public informational meetings in the vicinity of the proposed transmission line, as described below. The complete application will be available to download from the ODOE website on October 3, 2018: https://www.oregon.gov/energy/facilities-safety/facilities/Pages/B2H.aspx.

 Public Informational Meetings:

ODOE will hold a series of public informational meetings to share details about the proposed facility and the EFSC review process. The informational meetings are not a public hearing and will not include public testimony or on-the-record public comments. Representatives from ODOE and Idaho Power will be available to answer questions about the proposed transmission line and about the site certificate review process. The informational meetings will include a presentation starting at 5:30 p.m. ODOE and Idaho Power representatives will be available after the presentation to answer specific questions.

 

County:       Malheur
Date: Monday, October 15, 2018
Time: 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Location:      Four Rivers Cultural Center, 676 SW 5th Ave, Ontario, OR
County:       Baker
Date: Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Time: 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Location:      Community Connection-Baker County Senior Center, 2810 Cedar St, Baker City, OR
County:       Union
Date: Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Time: 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Location:      Blue Mountain Conference Center, 404 12th St, La Grande, OR
County:       Umatilla
Date: Thursday, October 18, 2018
Time: 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Location:      Pendleton Convention Center, 1601 Westgate, Pendleton, OR
County:       Morrow
Date: Thursday, October 18, 2018
Time:  5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Location:      Sage Center, 101 Olson Road, Boardman, OR

 

Boardman to Hemingway Transmission Line – Update August 2018

Proposed Boardman to Hemingway Transmission Line – Impacts on the Oregon Trail

The proposed Boardman to Hemingway transmission line will cross the Oregon Trail eleven times, with 200 foot tall towers and a 250 foot swath.

Actions by the Energy Facilities Siting Council (EFSC) are next in the process. As the name suggests, the EFSC determines if the B2H can be constructed in a clear-cut across the entire state of Oregon. Over many objections the Oregon Public Utilities Commission acknowledged Idaho Power’s Resource Plan, which included B2H, last April 10.

The EFSC has 30 rules or standards that Idaho Power must meet, most are environmentally focused. Examples are: Geology, Soil Stability, Wetlands, Fish and Wildlife, Scenic Values, Recreational Facilities, Noise, and of course Cultural. Certainly, OCTA has some members in the NW Chapter who are experts in these subjects and can participate.

Idaho Power may request EFSC approval of any combination of route segments for the proposed B2H facility. These route segments may or may not align with the route segments selected for analysis by the Bureau of Land Management during its National Environmental Policy Act review. Off of federal land in Oregon, EFSC has responsibility for conducting the permitting review of the facility. On federal land, the proposed B2H facility needs approval of both the responsible federal agency and EFSC.

Idaho Power has yet to complete the Amended Preliminary Site Certificate.

 

Bureau of Land Management Record of Decision – November 17, 2017

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its Record of Decision (ROD) for the Boardman to Hemingway Transmission Line Project (B2H) on Nov. 17, 2017. The ROD allows BLM to grant right-of-way to Idaho Power for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the B2H Project on BLM-administered land. The approved route is the Agency Preferred Alternative identified in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Proposed Land-use Plan Amendments, which was published on November 28, 2016.

The most important element of this publication, is that it starts the clock ticking for the three partners to come to several agreements. We may not know for some time, but the first action is for partners to pay their costs for permitting to Idaho Power. Idaho Power has 60 days to submit a bill to PacifiCorp and Bonneville Power, those two have 20 days to tell Idaho Power they will pay and then must pay by 60 days. So, by the end of January we should know if all three continue with the project. Those who continue have two negotiation periods of 180 days to two years to finalize Development and Construction Agreements. If you read the Funding Agreement either PacifiCorp or BPA can withdraw at any time for any reason.

The BLM Record of Decision also confirms the Agency Preferred Route which is the same as it was in the Final EIS in November 2016. The BLM and Forest Service dictate the route on their public lands, but do not control private property! That is where Idaho Power has stated they do not plan on following the Agency Preferred Route on some of the private lands. The decision on private land route rest with the Oregon Department of Energy’s Energy Facilities Siting Council (EFSC). Likely a two-year process!

This may close the chapter for the BLM other than working with them on significant mitigation. Idaho Power has proposed only “Interpretive Signs” and publications for mitigation. Obviously, we will fight this ridiculously inappropriate offer.

OCTA now moves on to the Oregon Public Utilities Commission and the Energy Facilities Siting Council and supports the StopB2H Coalition. For the time being, we are trying to stop the power line completely in dealing with these Oregon State agencies. Maybe not, but certainly worth a try.

We will do our best to keep all OCTA members informed as to our progress, and we will no doubt reach out for your support from time to time.


Oregon National Historic Trail in Danger

The proposed 300-mile Boardman to Hemingway power line project across Eastern Oregon, from the Columbia River to west of Boise, Idaho has just been approved by the Bureau of Land Management.

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – (Business Wire) – The proposed 300-mile Boardman to Hemingway power line project across Eastern Oregon, from the Columbia River to west of Boise, Idaho has just been approved by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM’s Record of Decision is an “absolute disaster” for the Oregon Trail and a slap in the face to all those emigrants and their ancestors, according to Pat Traffas, President of the Oregon-California Trails Association (OCTA).

“Thousands of emigrants took the trail west to Oregon between 1843 and 1863 – by wagon train, on horseback or on foot. These emigrants founded the territory that became the state of Oregon as we know it today,” according to Traffas.

For about 260 of its proposed 305-mile route, the project parallels the trail and crosses it as many as 8 times. Construction of a parade of towers up to 195 feet tall, which can be seen for miles, would desecrate not only the remains of the trail itself but compromise the views essential to the experience of the historic legacy, according to Traffas. The BLM has just authorized Idaho Power to dig up the landscape and our history for a 250-foot wide clear-cut gouge, as the route of the power line.

Visual damage to the Baker City Oregon Trail Interpretive Center and BLM’s own Area of Critical Environmental Concern at Birch Creek near Farewell Bend is obvious, but the 400 miles of new roads needed for construction certainly will impact trail swales on the ground.

“Once it’s gone, historic trail cannot be recreated,” explains Traffas. “Congress mandated protection of our historic trails,” she adds. “We don’t see it in the Record of Decision.”

The project is headed by Idaho Power Company, with PacifiCorp and Bonneville Power paying most of the permitting costs. Construction has not yet been agreed to by either of the other parties. Idaho Power does not need any new resources until 2029, according to their own data. This 1.2-Billion-dollar project could well be obsolete before it is build. Ratepayers in Oregon and Idaho will surely see major increases in their electric bills.

We are fighting the project in the Oregon Public Utilities Commission. We think that the President of Idaho Power should hear from all of us.

The Oregon-California Trails Association, headquartered in Independence, MO. Is the nation’s leading advocate for protection of westward emigration routes during the mid-19th Century. The Northwest Chapter is leading our effort to stop the project.

Contacts

Oregon-California Trails Association

Travis Boley, 816-914-2258