BLM approval of the Boardman to Hemingway Transmission line is only one step among many before Idaho Power hopes to begin construction of the B2H.
The company has permission to cross BLM land. That is less than half the length of the line. Next they face the U.S. Forest Service, Public Utility Commissions in both Idaho and Oregon, the Oregon Facilities Siting Council and, if all those bureaucratic hurdles are cleared, then likely lawsuits by the Oregon California Trail Association, the STOP B2H Coalition, agricultural interests and residential property owners. That is why completion of the B2H, initially planned in 2006 has continuously been pushed back and why many transmission line projects are fraught with cost overruns or canceled before construction ever begins.
The projected line will gouge a 250-foot-wide clear-cut across 300 miles of Eastern Oregon and southwest Idaho. BLM has made no provision to protect views from the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. There will be 180-foot transmission towers marring the view, and the line will cross the ruts of the Oregon Trail in at least eight locations. This is Oregon’s history. We can’t see it sacrificed for an unnecessary transmission line.
More than 100 pages of substantial comments have already been filed with the Oregon PUC, highlighting Idaho Power’s flawed risk analysis structure, and projections of energy needs biased towards greater consumption, even though across the nation and in Idaho energy consumption has decreased for the past ten years. In their comments the Sierra Club noted, “This is a justification, not an analysis.” The Stop B2H Coalition maintains that Idaho Power has not adequately addressed the uncertainty of future coal, gas, and renewable energy prices and transmission costs. Data has been selected to support building a transmission line. That’s how utilities make money — building things!
A guaranteed 6.7 percent profit based on the company’s share of the $1.2 billion B2H will benefit Idaho Power shareholders at the expense of Oregon and Idaho ratepayers. The line will be obsolete before it’s completed. It must be stopped before construction begins.