BPA seeks public comment on proposed rebuild of 66-year-old transmission line

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is seeking comments from members of the public in Montana’s Flathead and Lake counties on the proposed rebuild of the 66-year-old Kallispell to Kerr transmission line.

The 41-mile, 115-kV wood-pole line was built in 1947 and, although routine maintenance has been performed on the line, all the wood poles and conductor need to be replaced due to age and deterioration, according to BPA. In addition to replacing the poles and conductor, the proposed project may also require developing new access roads and improving existing access roads.

If BPA chooses to proceed with the proposed project, construction would begin in the spring of 2016. While BPA has not yet calculated a total project cost, its current estimate for retiring the old equipment and constructing the new transmission line is approximately $11.5m.

“We value the details offered by the public about the surrounding area and its environment,” Amanda Williams, BPA’s project manager, said in a statement. The public comments will help guide the development of the environmental assessment (EA) the agency will conduct before moving forward with the project.

To obtain comments, the agency has scheduled public meetings on the evenings of June 17 and 18, in Polson and Kallispell, respectively. BPA personnel will be in attendance to hear concerns, answer questions, and gather input about the potential impacts of the project that should be addressed in the EA.

Interested parties can also send comments on the proposal and its potential impacts to BPA either through mail or the BPA website. Comments should be submitted by June 28 and should reference the Kallispell-Kerr transmission line rebuild.

Following receipt and analysis of the comments, BPA will produce a preliminary EA, which will also be made available for review and comment. Following an additional comment period, BPA will produce a final EA. Based on its analysis, BPA will either prepare a finding of no significant impact, decide whether to proceed with the project, or prepare an environmental impact statement if there is the potential for significant environmental impacts.

The proposed rebuild is part of BPA’s commitment to maintain reliable electrical service and to reduce potential safety risks to the public and work crews. By rebuilding aging transmission lines when needed, BPA preserves the value of its transmission system, much of which is now nearing 70 years in age, the administration said.