The Bonneville Power Administration, Idaho Power and PacifiCorp have agreed to continue exploring joint participation in the 300-mile, 500-kilovolt Boardman-to-Hemingway Transmission Line Project.
Agreements, signed Jan. 12 by the three, provide funding to environmental review and permitting, ensuring continued consideration of the project.
“We continue to look for ways to collaborate with other utilities to cost-effectively serve our southeast Idaho customers,” said Brian Silverstein, senior vice president, BPA Transmission Services. “Participation in Boardman-to-Hemingway is one of several options that could help us do this.”
The Boardman-to-Hemingway Transmission Project would run from a new substation proposed near Boardman, Ore., to Idaho Power’s recently completed Hemingway Substation near Melba, Idaho, southwest of Boise. The line would increase system reliability and overall transfer capability between the three utilities’ systems, allowing the parties to capture least-cost resource options and more efficiently direct the output of those resources to serve their customers’ energy needs.
“For some time, we’ve been exploring ways to work with Idaho Power on development of the Boardman-to-Hemingway line,” said John Cupparo, senior vice president, transmission, PacifiCorp. “BPA becoming involved adds to the project’s viability and makes sense for our customers as we invest to meet their current and future needs,”
Under a joint funding agreement, each utility will pay a portion of permitting costs based on its stated share in the capacity of the proposed line. BPA will pay up to an estimated $11.7 million toward these costs for a 24.24 percent share in line capacity. PacifiCorp will contribute 54.55 percent to the permitting costs and Idaho Power, acting as the project manager, will contribute 21.21 percent. Payment does not commit BPA to participate in construction of the line.
”This project is a valuable and much-needed addition to the regional transmission grid,” said Idaho Power Vice President of Engineering and Operations Vern Porter. “Customers of all three partner organizations would benefit from this joint investment in important infrastructure.”
A second agreement among the three parties, a memorandum of understanding signed January 12, will continue discussions on options for BPA to serve its customers in southeast Idaho. BPA currently serves customers in Idaho, western Wyoming and southern Montana through two agreements with PacifiCorp -- the South Idaho Exchange Agreement and a General Transfer Agreement. Both agreements terminate in 2016.
These discussions will involve several options that would allow BPA to obtain transmission capacity from Hemingway Substation in southwest Idaho to serve its southeast Idaho customers. These options address service on the existing transmission system and the future Gateway West 500-kV transmission system currently in the permitting process across Wyoming and Idaho. The Gateway West project will connect to the Hemingway Substation, offering a connection that could provide BPA with a path to serve its southeast Idaho customers. In addition to participation in the permitting of the Boardman-to-Hemingway Line, BPA is evaluating various other alternatives to serve its customers affected by the termination.
Boardman-to-Hemingway is one of seven high-voltage transmission projects identified by an Obama Administration initiative to accelerate permitting and construction of electric transmission lines to speed creation of construction and operations jobs, modernize the nation’s electric grid, and integrate renewable energy