Bonneville Power Administration preparing evaluations on four proposed projects

With the comment periods now closed, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is preparing evaluations on four transmission projects within its jurisdiction.

BPA received nearly 600 comments on its I-5 Corridor Reinforcement Project before the public comment period for the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) ended on March 25. BPA released the draft EIS on Nov. 13, 2012, held six drop-in sessions in December 2012 and six public meetings in January and February to gather public input.

As BPA prepares the final EIS, it will review the comments received and continue to work with cooperating agencies and landowners to refine the project location and design, according to its project website. Engineering and environmental survey field work will provide additional information for potential adjustments.

The project is a 79-mile, 500-kV transmission line from Castle Rock, Wash., to Troutdale, Ore. The project will increase capacity and relieve congestion in the Longview, Wash., area and the  Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash., area.  It will also serve point-to-point transmission service requests.  

The agency expects the final EIS in 2014. The line will cost approximately $459m and is scheduled to be energized in 2018. 

BPA is proposing to rebuild nearly 28 miles of the Grand Coulee-Creston 115-kV transmission line between the cities of Coulee Dam in Grant County, Wash., and Creston in Lincoln County, Wash. The line was built in 1941 and is in need of replacement due to age, rot and deterioration, BPA said in its public letter about the project.

The scoping period for the environmental assessment (EA) ended March 27, and the agency will prepare the EA over the next few months.

The proposed project represents the western portion of the 82-mile Grand Coulee-Creston-Bell transmission line. In May 2012, BPA issued a final EA for the eastern 54 miles of the line, along with its finding of no significant impact.

According to the agency’s project page, it received seven comments for its preliminary EA directly, while four more were made during a public meeting. Most commenters supported the project, though many urged the agency to be mindful of existing sensitive habitats.

In its comments, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife said it “does not anticipate that there will [be] new or additional impacts [on] native habitats and wildlife as a result of rebuilding the Grand Coulee Creston” line, though it said it would be reviewing the proposed EA for potential environmental impacts and would provide further comments if necessary.

A preliminary EA will be released for public review in the fall and a final EA by the summer of 2014.

Based upon the analysis in the EA and the comments received, BPA will either prepare a finding of no significant impact and decide whether to proceed with the project, or an environmental impact statement if there is the potential for significant environmental impacts, according to its project web page.

BPA is also proposing to rebuild the 41-mile, 115-kV Lane-Wendsdon transmission line between Eugene and Florence in Oregon, a 1948-vintage transmission line supported by wooden poles that have outlived their planned service life, according to the agency. 

The agency accepted public comments through April 22, and will use those comments in preparation of an EA to understand the potential environmental impacts of the project. The agency will study the impacts of rebuilding the line and not rebuilding it but continuing with current operation and maintenance practices. If BPA decides to proceed with the project, construction would begin in the summer of 2015.

According to the agency’s project page, two comments were received directly, encouraging the BPA to use caution to avoid disturbing habitat for birds and other species, exercise due care to avoid destruction of vegetation or causing unnecessary sediment to be introduced into nearby streams.

If BPA decides to proceed with the project, construction would begin in the summer of 2015.

BPA is proposing to build the 115-kV Hooper Springs Transmission Line that would extend from BPA’s proposed Hooper Springs substation near the city of Soda Springs, Idaho, to a proposed BPA connection facility that would connect with Lower Valley Energy‘s (LVE) existing transmission system in northeastern Caribou County, Idaho.

Formerly called the Caribou Valley Energy Project, the Hooper Springs project would extend between 22 miles and 32 miles depending on the routing alternative selected. BPA would also construct a 138-kV transmission line that would stretch approximately 0.5 miles between the proposed Hooper Springs substation and PacifiCorp‘s existing Threemile Knoll substation to connect the electrical facilities to the regional transmission grid.

BPA issued a public letter announcing the draft EIS on Feb. 27, and accepted public comments through April 22. It will use the approximately 20 comments received in preparation of a final EIS, which it expects to issue in the fall.

According to TransmissionHub data, the project will cost approximately $51m, and is expected to enter service in 2015.