- Idaho Power’s Boardman-to-Hemingway Transmission Line Project, being developed on the Idaho-Oregon border, took a big step forward with the release of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Land-use Plan Amendments.
- BLM led the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) permitting process for the 300-mile, 500-kV overhead AC line that would connect the two states and allow for transmission between the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West. The utility hopes to complete the permitting process in time to start construction in 2018 and have the line in service by the end of 2020.
- The public has until March 19, 2015, to review and comment on the Draft EIS.
Boardman-to-Hemingway was one of seven projects designated for special attention by the Obama Administration’s Rapid Response Transmission Team (RRTT) in 2009. That was supposed to streamline development by driving cooperation between federal permitting agencies.
“The RRTT has given us access to people in Washington, D.C., but it has not been effective for getting permits,” Idaho Power 500 Kilovolt Projects Manager Doug Dockter told Utility Dive. “The RRTT’s purpose was to make sure those nine agencies involved in permitting are working well together. What we are noticing is that the BLM has been ineffective in managing its own process.”
The EIS preferred route largely follows Idaho Power’s proposed route but varies in a few key places. About a third of the line is on public land and BLM’s decision granted the Right-of-Way for its use. Stakeholders have developed a Sage-grouse Mitigation Blueprint and are developing a Compensatory Habitat Mitigation Plan.
Boardman-to-Hemingway is also a pilot project for the Pacific Northwest Regional Infrastructure Team created to improve federal and state agency communication and cooperation in the region.