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LETTER: B2H: Where are the benefits?

Published on February 6, 2018 3:53PM

Mitch Colburn has a terrible job. He’s paid to make Idaho Power’s B2H transmission line sound like a good project, good for Umatilla County, good for all of Oregon. Because there’s nothing good to say, he labels critics’ facts as “opinions,” which he responds to with “information,” mostly the company’s public relations window dressing.

Where is Mr. Colburn’s information about benefits? Jobs: None. Additional energy delivered to Umatilla County: None.

Here’s his information: Some transmission towers will be only 140 feet high, not 190. That’s a benefit? In special places, clear cuts will be only 150 feet wide, not 250. Another benefit? Only half as many access roads will be needed. That’s a mere 200 roads, not 400. To protect views of the Oregon Trail in Baker County, towers will be painted brown so shining steel won’t be so obnoxious. Do we all feel better now? Not likely.

These 140- to 190-foot towers, planted on clear cuts as wide as eight-lane highways, will scar the skylines of five eastern Oregon counties from the Idaho border to Boardman, Oregon. That’s information, not opinion.

Idaho Power has been meeting with stake holders and property owners. Yes. In La Grande more than 300 people have turned out. Every person in attendance said “No” to the B2H. Why? Because the B2H will cross prime farm land, endanger ecosystems, invade private property and impact the Oregon Trail. That’s information, not opinion.

The “need” for the controversial B2H, whether it should be built at all, is currently being analyzed by the Oregon Public Utilities Commission. Idaho Power has been proposing this line since 2007. Is that good? No. In the last 10 years the electric utility industry has changed as much as the telephone industry. Trade publications use terms like “dramatic changes,” “tectonic shifts” and “death spiral” to describe the industry’s shift away from transmission lines. Idaho Power is still pursuing the same old plans to build the B2H -- the equivalent of telephone poles for landlines -- while in Iowa, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Oregon long-planned transmission line projects, once deemed “essential,” have been canceled. That’s information, not opinion.

Mr. Colburn has a terrible job. Yes. That’s my opinion.

Lois Barry

La Grande


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