Record of decision released for Boardman to Hemingway project

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Nov. 17 released its record of decision (ROD) for the Boardman to Hemingway Transmission Line Project, according to the project’s website.

The ROD allows the BLM to grant right of way (ROW) to Idaho Power for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the project on BLM-administered land, the site noted.

As noted in the ROD, the BLM’s approval will take the form of a 30-year ROW grant. The BLM will also issue a temporary – that is, short-term – ROW grant for areas to be used only during construction for a period of 10 years. Activities associated with completion of the notice to proceed (NTP) requirements for construction of the project must begin within five years after the effective date of the ROW, the ROD said.

The approved route is the agency preferred alternative identified in the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Proposed Land-use Plan Amendments, the site noted.

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) will issue a separate ROD for lands administered by the USFS based on the analysis in the final EIS, according to the site.

The project must also be considered through the state permitting process, the site noted, adding that the Oregon Department of Energy and the Energy Facility Siting Council will review Idaho Power’s application for compliance with state energy facility siting standards.  

PacifiCorp, Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), and Idaho Power have jointly proposed to design, build, operate and maintain the project, which involves a new 500-kV, single-circuit electric transmission line from a proposed substation near Boardman, Ore., to the Hemingway substation near Melba, Idaho. Idaho Power is leading the permitting process for the project, the site noted.

As noted in the ROD, the project includes the construction of the 293-mile alternating current transmission system that will connect the northern terminus – the Longhorn substation proposed by BPA, about four miles east of the city of Boardman in Morrow County, Ore. – to the existing Hemingway substation, near the city of Melba in Owyhee County, Idaho.

The ROD also noted that the permanent facilities authorized by the ROW grant include:

  • The transmission line, including structures, conductors, and other associated facilities
  • Access roads and access control gates
  • Communication regeneration site every 40 miles
  • Removal of about seven miles of the existing Boardman to Tap 69-kV transmission line
  • Re-routing of 0.9 miles of the existing Quartz to Tap 230-kV transmission line

The ROD noted that the ROW grant is conditioned on the applicant’s satisfaction of certain mitigation plans and monitoring requirements, as well as all the commitments and requirements outlined in the ROD. The ROW grant also requires the applicant to comply with all applicable tribal, federal, state, as well as local laws and regulations, according to the ROD.

Regarding cultural resources mitigation, for instance, the ROD noted that BLM executed a programmatic agreement (PA) to set forth the requirements for complying with the process of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, which requires federal agencies to take into account the effects of their undertakings on historic properties. The PA identifies processes and procedures to identify historic properties and to determine if historic properties are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and if those properties would be adversely affected by the project’s construction and/or operations and maintenance. The applicant will submit to the BLM all reports stipulated by the PA in accordance with the project schedule, the ROD added.

According to the project site, the project would provide additional capacity for exchanging energy between the Pacific Northwest and the Intermountain West, depending on which region is experiencing the highest demand. The project would also serve load, improve reliability, interconnect resources, and take advantage of seasonal and near-term load and generation diversity between regions, the site noted.

In 2010, following a year-long community advisory process, Idaho Power selected a proposed route for the line, the site noted.

According to the ROD, construction of the project is planned to begin in 2020, placing the project in service between 2023 and 2025. The project will be built in two geographic segments; both construction segments are planned to occur simultaneously and are anticipated to take about three years to complete, followed by revegetation and reclamation activities, the ROD noted.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3056 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.