BPA seeks public comment on proposed transmission line rebuild

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is seeking comments from members of the public in Lane County, Ore., on the proposed rebuild of the 60-year-old Hills Creek-Lookout Point transmission line between Lowell and Oakridge in Oregon.

The 26-mile, 115-kV wood-pole line was built in 1953 and, although routine maintenance has been performed on the line, most of the 60-year-old structures are physically worn and 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 or trails and improving existing access roads.

“Right now is the best time to learn from residents about the area so we can consider concerns and input early in the project planning process,” Richard Heredia, BPA’s project manager told TransmissionHub Aug. 22. “The more detail we have from the start about natural resources, vegetation and property concerns, the better it is for the community and for the project.”

In additional to replacing the wood poles and conductors, BPA plans to relocate a portion of the right-of-way (ROW) about three miles southeast of Oakridge by approximately 2,000 feet because of an active landslide that is threatening the existing line.

The agency has scheduled a public meeting on Sept. 11 in Oakridge. BPA personnel will listen to concerns, answer questions and gather local knowledge and input about the potential impacts of the project that should be addressed in the environmental assessment (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 Sept. 26 and reference the Hills Creek-Lookout Point Transmission Line Rebuild Project.

Following receipt and analysis of the comments, BPA will produce a preliminary EA, which will also be made available for review and comment. After completion of 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.

If BPA chooses to proceed with the proposed project, construction would begin in May 2016 or June 2016 and would be completed in two phases over approximately four months, Heredia said. Because the project is still in the early stages, BPA does not have a precise cost estimate, but expects the cost to range from $5m to $10m.

The proposed rebuild is part of BPA’s commitment to maintain reliable electrical service and 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.