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Idaho needs more power but parts of Oregon object

About 900 new plants, most of which produce renewable energy, were proposed last year, compared with 300 in 2004, said Glenn McGrath, an analyst with the federal agency. “Regardless of where you go, there’s always some issues—whether it’s bats, whether it’s birds, whether it’s wealthy landowners who don’t want their view interrupted,” said Dan Shreve, wind-energy research director at consulting firm Wood Mackenzie. “As a consequence, you see these initiatives drag on forever.”

Utilities are trying to build lines to transport clean energy across states but face local resistance

LA GRANDE, Ore.—In this small town in eastern Oregon, renewable energy is widely popular. But the power lines needed to transmit it aren’t.

La Grande is one of many communities nationwide fighting against transmission lines being built to keep up with a surge in clean-power generation.

“We need to develop more renewable energy, of course, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of damage to our last remaining wild places,” Brian Kelly, who helps lead a green group in the area, said of a proposed transmission line that would run through the nearby forest.

Utilities are under pressure to put up more power lines because many clean-energy plants are being built far from major cities. Renewable energy is generated from sources like the sun or wind that don’t get depleted, unlike finite amounts of oil and coal.

There were about 2,500 planned or newly completed transmission projects in the U.S. last year, according to the Energy Information Administration. While the federal agency didn’t have historical data on such projects, it estimates industry costs for transmission-related... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Utilities are trying to build lines to transport clean energy across states but face local resistance

LA GRANDE, Ore.—In this small town in eastern Oregon, renewable energy is widely popular. But the power lines needed to transmit it aren’t.

La Grande is one of many communities nationwide fighting against transmission lines being built to keep up with a surge in clean-power generation.

“We need to develop more renewable energy, of course, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of damage to our last remaining wild places,” Brian Kelly, who helps lead a green group in the area, said of a proposed transmission line that would run through the nearby forest.

Utilities are under pressure to put up more power lines because many clean-energy plants are being built far from major cities. Renewable energy is generated from sources like the sun or wind that don’t get depleted, unlike finite amounts of oil and coal.

There were about 2,500 planned or newly completed transmission projects in the U.S. last year, according to the Energy Information Administration. While the federal agency didn’t have historical data on such projects, it estimates industry costs for transmission-related operations increased to $11.4 billion last year from $6.7 billion in 2009.

About 900 new plants, most of which produce renewable energy, were proposed last year, compared with 300 in 2004, said Glenn McGrath, an analyst with the federal agency.

“Regardless of where you go, there’s always some issues—whether it’s bats, whether it’s birds, whether it’s wealthy landowners who don’t want their view interrupted,” said Dan Shreve, wind-energy research director at consulting firm Wood Mackenzie. “As a consequence, you see these initiatives drag on forever.”

Wisconsin residents have banded against the proposed 125-mile Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line led by American Transmission Co., which would provide the region with more clean power. An opposition group plans to appeal the state’s approval of the project west of Milwaukee issued earlier this year.

In New Mexico, locals including filmmaker Robert Redford fought Hunt Power’s proposal to build a 30-mile transmission line that would add capacity for more renewable power. In the face of the opposition, the Dallas-based energy company withdrew its federal application for the Verde Transmission Project north of Santa Fe in August.

‘We need to develop more renewable energy, of course, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of damage to our last remaining wild places’—Brian Kelly
Idaho Power’s proposed line in Oregon would connect a hub in eastern Washington that gathers largely hydropower and solar energy to the fast-growing Idaho market. The company said the project would cost up to $1.2 billion.

Mr. Kelly, restoration director of the Greater Hells Canyon Council, is one of many local residents fighting the 300-mile line. They say it would disrupt elk and deer herds, add to the wildfire threat and spoil views of the Oregon Trail, where remnants of pioneers’ wagon tracks are still visible.

Idaho Power officials say that their equipment would have a minimal influence on wildlife, would be built with fire safety in mind and that its shorter towers would lessen the visual impacts on the Oregon Trail.

The opponents in November filed suit in federal court to block the line, pending more environmental analysis. The Oregon Energy Department, which issued a draft order in support of the line, is analyzing public input. It will then make a final recommendation that the governor’s energy council is expected to act on over the next several months. Idaho Power said it hopes to begin construction by 2023.

Initially, the Idaho Power line was going to cross about 5 miles east of La Grande through the middle of a 7,400-acre ranch known for its large elk herds. Brad Allen, a potato farmer who bought it as a hunting and recreation preserve, said he threatened to sue to block the route.

“It would have devastated my ranch,” said the 55-year-old Mr. Allen.

Idaho Power then selected two alternative routes—one hugging a ridge overlooking La Grande and the other bypassing the city-owned Morgan Lake nearby.

“Our interest all along has been to support what the community wants,” said Mitch Colburn, director of resource planning and operations for Idaho Power.

The ridge route would cross below the home of Fuji Kreider and her husband, Jim Kreider, who have helped organize a group to stop it. They advocate generating more renewable power locally. Among their worries is the kind of wildfire sparked by PG&E Corp. equipment that destroyed Paradise, Calif., in 2018.

“We want to learn from California and not repeat the same mistake,” said Mr. Kreider, 65, a retired administrator and educator.

Idaho Power officials say that their equipment and operations are designed to be fire-safe, and that they are now focusing more on the Morgan Lake route based on the concerns. Local landowners object to that, too.


Source: https://www.wsj.com/article...

DEC 30 2019
http://www.windaction.org/posts/50745-idaho-needs-more-power-but-parts-of-oregon-object
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