Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council to meet Sept. 27 in Salem to discuss B2H

·2 min read

Sep. 23—SALEM — A proposed Eastern Oregon transmission line project may soon receive a critical green light from the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council.

The siting council is set to meet on Tuesday, Sept. 27, in Salem to discuss the status of Idaho Power's proposed Boardman to Hemingway transmission line. The council will first address contested portions of the proposed site plan for B2H and strategies for resolving them, according to the agenda for the meeting sent out by the Oregon Department of Energy. Later the council is scheduled to vote on whether to approve the Boardman to Hemingway site plan.

Approval of the site plan would put the proposed project a major step closer to constructing the transmission line, said Sven Berg, a communications specialist with Idaho Power. Berg is optimistic about the changes of the site plan being approved.

"The process has played out fairly and we are happy with the case we have laid out for the council," he said.

Idaho Power is a major funder of the proposed B2H project, which would run 300 miles from Boardman to the Hemingway transmission line substation near Melba, Idaho.

Berg said he feels good about the connections Idaho Power is making with the public regarding B2H and those who will be near it.

"I'm happy with the progress we've made working with governments, communities and stakeholders along the route," he said.

Berg said Idaho Power's goal is to break ground for the project in 2023 and have lines for the project electrified in 2026.

The transmission line would cost between $1 billion and $1.2 billion. Towers along the line would be as high as 180 feet. In comparison, standard towers are 75-90 feet tall. The proposed line would pass through the Grande Ronde Valley.

Should the site plan be approved by the Energy Facility Siting Council, B2H would still face a number of hurdles.

Jim Kreider, of the Stop B2H Coalition, a grassroots effort of 900 individuals and organizations, said his the coalition will file an appeal with the Oregon State Supreme Court if the site plan is approved.

Even if the site plan is ultimately approved, this would not guarantee that B2H would become a reality, since other steps would have to be taken. For example, the public utilities commissioners of both Oregon and Idaho would have to vote to authorize construction of the line, Berg said.

The Sept. 27 meeting will start at 8:30 a.m. at the Oregon Department of Energy building at 550 Capitol St. NE. The meeting can be attended virtually using the online Webex platform.

Dick Mason is a reporter with The Observer. Contact him at 541-624-6016 or dmason@lagrandeobserver.com.