By Mitch Colburn
Growth has come to the Northwest. The signs are everywhere: new buildings, new roads, more cars, more people. And lights.
It’s Idaho Power’s job to make sure those lights come on for customers in Oregon and Idaho. Repeated, in-depth studies show we’ll need new energy resources to keep doing that. That need could become more urgent as Idaho Power and other energy companies transition away from coal and toward clean energy.
The Boardman to Hemingway line offers the most cost-effective way to meet growing needs and continue Idaho Power’s 100-plus-year tradition of reliable, affordable, clean energy. And it will be crucial to our goal of a 100% clean energy mix by 2045, helping us deliver energy from clean, intermittent sources like wind and solar without sacrificing reliability or affordability.
The 300-mile, 500-kilovolt (kV) line will connect a substation near Boardman, Oregon, to another west of Boise, Idaho. It will provide extra capacity to move energy back and forth between the Pacific Northwest and Mountain West. Utilities in both regions will be able to buy energy when their customers need a little extra. Others can sell what they’re not using.
B2H, as the project is called, also would benefit areas that aren’t seeing as much growth. It would free up capacity on existing lines so that local businesses can expand or new ones can take root. It would give entrepreneurs an opportunity to connect new energy projects to the grid.
From Boardman to Ontario to Pocatello and beyond, homes, farms and businesses will benefit from this project. Millions of businesses and residents across the Pacific Northwest and Mountain West would receive power from B2H.
The public utilities commissions of Oregon and Idaho – state agencies that regulate utility companies – have acknowledged Idaho Power’s long-range plan, of which B2H is a key component.
In eastern Oregon, B2H would help local governments through tax money the project generates. Local businesses would benefit from increased spending in the area during construction. More favorable prices and reliable service will be available to electric service providers that buy energy from Bonneville Power Administration, including the Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative and the Umatilla Electric Cooperative in eastern Oregon.
Idaho Power is committed to minimizing the line’s impacts. We’re working with the public, local and state governments, federal agencies, private landowners and businesses to finalize the route for the line. Most towers would be about half as tall as a typical wind turbine.
B2H is a key piece of the Northwest’s energy and economic future. It will help Idaho Power, PacifiCorp and BPA provide our customers an energy mix that’s cleaner, more reliable and more affordable.
Mitch Colburn is Resource Planning and Operations Director for Idaho Power, which is taking the lead on planning and obtaining permits for the Boardman to Hemingway transmission line.