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Decision Could Come Soon on 500-kV Boardman-to-Hemingway Grid Project

Backers of a $1 billion-plus transmission project in Idaho and Oregon are entering a key phase of planning for the 500-kV grid project.

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) expects to release a Record of Decision for the 500-kV Boardman-to-Hemingway (B2H) transmission project in the second quarter of 2017, according to a website devoted to the grid project.

PacifiCorp, Bonneville Power Administration, and Idaho Power jointly propose to design, construct, operate and maintain a new 500 kV, single-circuit electric transmission line from a proposed substation near Boardman, Oregon to the Hemingway Substation near Melba, Idaho. Idaho Power is leading the permitting process for the Project.

Idaho Power was preparing to submit the amended preliminary Application for Site Certificate (ASC) to the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) in June, according to a May newsletter from Idaho Power.

The B2H Project would provide additional capacity for exchanging energy between the Pacific Northwest and the Intermountain West, depending on which region is experiencing the highest demand. The Project would also serve load, improve reliability, interconnect resources, and take advantage of seasonal and near-term load and generation diversity between regions.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the Boardman to Hemingway (B2H) Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) prepared by the BLM on Nov. 25, 2016. A 30-day notice of availability period on the Final EIS and public protest period on the proposed land use plan amendments concluded on Dec. 26.

Current cost estimates for the B2H project are between $1 billion and $1.2 billion, according to an Idaho Power fact sheet published in April. PacifiCorp and the BPA are funding permitting at approximately 55% and 24% respectively, with Idaho Power allocated 21%.

Agreements have not yet been reached for construction, operation and maintenance of the line.

Idaho Power’s 2015 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) identified B2H as part of the preferred portfolio of resources to serve customer demand. IRPs as far back as 2006 have identified the cost-effectiveness of a transmission line to the Pacific Northwest. B2H is being analyzed as part of the 2017 IRP process, which is in progress. The 2017 IRP will be filed in June.

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