One more change was made to the proposed route endorsed at the previous team meeting — a swing to the east after the line would go west of Brogan, to bring it closer to Huntington for the protection of a sage grouse breeding habitat.
The community advisory process has been ongoing since last year, when Idaho Power faced stiff opposition in Malheur County and other counties, in Oregon and Idaho, for its initial proposed routes.
Malheur County residents primarily opposed the route over prime farming areas in the Nyssa and Adrian areas, and between Ontario and Vale, asking Idaho Power to move the line away from exclusive farm use land. In its review of proposed routes, Idaho Power officials concluded it could not get state approval for siting the line over exclusive farm use ground.
As reported, the proposed line skirts most of the farm land in Owyhee County in Idaho and Malheur County in Oregon, following the existing Pacific Power and Light line west of Owyhee Reservoir. The line cuts north in the vicinity of Vines Hill and swings just west of Brogan before going into Baker County.
In its decision-making process the BLM may offer alternatives to what the Idaho Power Co. has proposed.
“It is not just yes or no,” McCarthy said.
However, with the state EFSC process, alternatives are not offered, he said.
“They can only make a decision on the proposed route,” McCarthy said.
A new route would require a new process, he said.
Additionally, local residents who have been involved in the siting process are encouraged to continue their participation, because there are still opportunities to offer alternatives to the proposed route or for agencies to disapprove of the proposed route.
He warned that it is important that people follow all the way through, because if the state contests the case hearing, held before the Oregon Department of Energy, and makes the final decision, people wanting to testify must have made comment on the draft. None of the official public hearings are expected until later this summer or fall.
“We’re trying to line the process up,” McCarthy said, so there will be joint meeting and hearings.