Saturday, March 26, 2011

Various agencies reviewing public comments about transmission line
By Larry Meyer Thursday, March 17, 2011

ONTARIO — State and federal agencies are continuing to move ahead with their review of Idaho Power Company’s plans to build a transmission line from Boardman to Hemingway — northeast Oregon to southwest Idaho — and are in the process of reviewing public comment during the public scoping period completed last summer.

In the latest project newsletter issued by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Services and Oregon Department of Energy, the ODOE will soon issue a project order outlining the issues and regulations Idaho Power must address in its application for site certificate. ODOE is the state agency that must approve the proposed route through Oregon. Agency officials anticipate that Idaho Power will submit its preliminary application later this year to begin the next phase of the state review process.

The project order includes issues and concerns raised during last year’s public comment period.

After Idaho Power submits its preliminary application for site certificate to ODOE and its Energy Facility Siting Council, the application will be reviewed by state and local agencies to determine if the company addressed the requirements in the project order. When deemed completed, the application will be released for public comment, and another round of informational meetings will be held.

The federal agencies, with the BLM in the lead role, are drafting a revised scoping report summarizing public comments.

The report is expected to be made public in May, and, during the next year, the agencies will evaluate the project for potential impacts on environmental, social and economic resources to be included in the draft Environmental Impact Statement.

For its part, Idaho Power reports that its engineers and surveyors will conduct reviews of the topography and land features along the proposed route, assess corridor rights of way, as well as identify where access roads and landowner permission may be needed. Archaeologists will also be available for possible archaeological or historical sites or other cultural resources in the proposed corridor.