DOI announces approval of transmission line project in Oregon an - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

DOI announces approval of transmission line project in Oregon and Idaho

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PORTLAND, OR - In a move that will improve the nation's energy infrastructure, create nearly 500 jobs and boost local economies, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced today that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has signed a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Boardman to Hemingway Transmission Line Project (B2H Project). The B2H Project will provide additional electrical capacity between the Pacific Northwest and the Intermountain West regions.

The B2H Project, which will have a three-year development phase, will alleviate existing transmission constraints by providing sufficient electrical capacity to meet present and forecasted customer needs. The total capital expenditure for the B2H Project is approximately $1 billion to $1.2 billion.

"The Boardman to Hemingway Project is a Trump Administration priority focusing on infrastructure needs that support America's energy independence," said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. "Today's decision is the result of extensive public involvement and will support the environmentally responsible development of resources to meet the needs of communities in Idaho, Oregon, and the surrounding region."

The ROD allows the BLM to grant a right-of-way to Idaho Power Company for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the B2H Project on BLM-administered land. Located in eastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho, the approved route will measure approximately 300 miles long when constructed. The overhead electrical line will be extra-high-voltage (500 kilovolts) and will include an alternating-current transmission system. Because the new line will have increased transmission capacity, it will allow greater use of intermittent sources of renewable energy, such as wind and solar, to connect to the grid.

"This project will help stabilize the power grid in the Northwest while creating jobs and carrying low-cost energy to market," said Katherine MacGregor, acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management. "It is a great example of the Administration's America First Energy Plan, which addresses all forms of domestic energy production."

"It's great to finally have an administration that recognizes the importance of working with states like Idaho to get important things done," said Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter. "I'm pleased that our federal partners are moving toward making this important infrastructure upgrade a reality. Meeting the electric transmission needs of our growing economy and population will require continued collaboration, and I'm confident that the BLM and Department of the Interior under President Trump will keep providing that kind of constructive leadership.

"BLM's approval of this interstate transmission line is a long overdue decision that will bolster our regional infrastructure and ensure that energy is delivered efficiently and reliably to customers," said Idaho Senator Mike Crapo. "This type of project is the result of a collaboration between multiple stakeholders to move to meet the energy demands of the region."

"The B2H Project will create jobs, provide for Idaho's energy needs and promote the region's energy infrastructure moving forward," said Senator James Risch. "I applaud the BLM for issuing their Record of Decision which is a critical step forward for the B2H Project."

"The Boardman to Hemingway project is critically important to Idaho," said Congressman Mike Simpson. "Providing the infrastructure to deliver affordable and reliable energy will benefit Idahoans and others in the West. I applaud BLM for prioritizing this important work."

The B2H Project will add approximately 1,000 megawatts of much needed bi-directional power capacity between the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West regions. The additional capacity will help improve the regions' ability to transmit low-cost energy from a variety of generation sources to serve residences, farms, businesses, and other customers throughout the region.

The 293.4-mile approved route will run across 100.3 miles of Federal land (managed by the BLM, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Department of Defense), 190.2 miles of private land, and 2.9 miles of state lands.

The B2H Project is a national-level priority and an important component of the President's all-of the-above-energy strategy that includes encouraging projects that help to strengthen America's energy infrastructure. The transmission line connects the northern terminus, the Longhorn Substation, a substation planned by Bonneville Power Administration about four miles east of the city of Boardman in Morrow County, Oregon, to the existing Hemingway Substation, near the city of Melba in Owyhee County, Idaho. Construction of the B2H Project is targeted to start in 2021 and will take approximately two to three years once all final permits are acquired. The B2H Project includes construction of the new transmission line, access roads and gates, and communication regeneration sites. The project also includes the removal or rerouting of about eight miles of older transmission lines.

The selected route approved by the ROD is the Agency Preferred Alternative identified in the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Proposed Land-use Plan Amendments, which published in the Federal Register on November 28, 2016. The ROD represents the culmination of a comprehensive planning process, including a Community Advisory Process conducted by the Idaho Power Company that further refined the routing options. Comments received after public scoping in 2010 further refined routing and added variations.

The final documents and maps showing the Agency Preferred Alternative are available at: http://bit.ly/2hRuQfS.

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