BPA: Preferred alternative for proposed 500-kV line limits impacts on highly populated areas

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) said on Nov. 14 that its preferred alternative for the I-5 Corridor Reinforcement Project allows it to limit impacts on private property, nearby residences, schools and highly populated areas.

BPA said it identified the Central Alternative using Central Option 1 as its preferred alternative, noting that all other alternatives in the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) are still being considered.

“The preferred alternative represents a healthy balance of our accountability to the region, particularly to those who participated in the public process; our responsibility to manage costs for regional ratepayers; our role as responsible environmental stewards and our goal of operating a reliable transmission system,” BPA Administrator Steve Wright said in the statement.

While the current cost for the preferred alternative is $459m – not the lowest-cost or highest-cost alternative, the preferred alternative avoids many small, rural parcels of private land by crossing significant lengths of land held by large public and private landowners, BPA said.

Furthermore, BPA expects that the Army Corps of Engineers will ultimately be able to issue the required wetland permits to build the preferred route.

According to TransmissionHub data, the project is a 500-kV transmission line, beginning in Castle Rock, Wash., and ending in Troutdale, Ore.

According to the draft EIS, the Central Alternative begins at the Baxter Road substation site northwest of Castle Rock and immediately heads east, crossing north of Castle Rock before running south and east to the Sundial substation site, a total of 77.3 miles.

The preferred alternative would primarily use new right-of-way (ROW), about 90%, that would run mostly through forest land – around 90% of land use crossed. Only 3% of the land crossed by the ROW would be populated – 1% urban/suburban, mainly north of Castle Rock, and 2% rural. About 14% of the land beyond the ROW – out to 1,000 feet on both sides – of the Central Alternative is zoned for residential use.

BPA said in its statement that the primary driver for the proposed 79-mile line that would connect a new substation north of Castle Rock, Wash., with another new substation in Troutdale, Ore., is to maintain system reliability in the area.

BPA also said it has committed to invest in facility upgrades that delay the reliability need from roughly 2016 to 2018, adding that some commercial requests for BPA transmission service impact the project area.

Project staff will be available in Castle Rock, Amboy, Camas and Vancouver, Wash., between Dec. 4 and Dec. 15, and six formal public meetings are scheduled between Jan. 10, 2013 and Feb. 6, 2013. BPA said it will take public comment on the draft EIS through March 1, 2013, with the final EIS expected to be released in 2014. After the final EIS is released, BPA will issue a record of decision, which will announce its final decision on whether to build the project.

A decision to build would result in constructing starting in 2015, with the project energized in 2018. BPA also said that as it finalizes the EIS, it will continue working on non-wires measures that could help maintain system reliability.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3058 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.