Government Advances U.S.-Canada, Northwestern Grid Projects

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Posted: Monday, November 27, 2017 8:01 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Federal government agencies recently took actions that advance separate plans for the construction of a transmission line that will connect Canada and the U.S. and a grid project that will provide additional electrical capacity between the Pacific Northwest and the Intermountain West regions.

The Department of Energy on Nov. 16 issued a record of decision and approved a presidential permit for the proposed Northern Pass Transmission Line Project, a 192-mile above and below ground, alternating and direct current transmission system that will deliver up to 1,090 MW of hydropower from Quebec to Deerfield, N.H.

The DOE noted that since it was first proposed in 2010, the $1.6 billion Northern Pass project has been subject to multiple layers of federal and state government permitting regulations, resulted in a nearly 4,000-page environmental impact statement, and adjusted its planned route in response to input from local communities as well as federal and state permitting agencies.

The approval of the presidential permit allows the Northern Pass project to cross the international border and connect to the U.S. grid.

Northern Pass’ construction of the line is expected to begin as early as April 2018, pending approval by New Hampshire’s Site Evaluation Committee.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Land Management recently signed a record of decision for the Boardman to Hemingway Transmission Line Project, which will provide additional electrical capacity between the Pacific Northwest and the Intermountain West regions.

The record of decision allows the BLM to grant a right-of-way to Idaho Power for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the project on BLM-administered land.

The BLM said that the transmission project, which will have a three-year development phase, will alleviate existing transmission constraints by providing sufficient electrical capacity to meet present and forecasted customer needs. The BLM is part of the Department of the Interior.

The project will add approximately 1,000 MW of bidirectional power capacity between the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West regions.

The total capital expenditure for the project is approximately $1 billion to $1.2 billion.

The 293.4-mile approved route will run across a little more than 100 miles of federal land managed by the BLM, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Department of Defense; around 190 miles of private land; and 2.9 miles of state lands. The project’s route runs from northeast Oregon to southwest Idaho.

Construction of the project is targeted to start in 2021 and will take approximately two to three years once all final permits are acquired, the BLM said.

"This is an important milestone in Idaho Power’s proposed 500 kV transmission line, but there is still more work ahead," said Kevin Wingert, a spokesman for the Bonneville Power Administration. "While Boardman-to-Hemingway is not a BPA project, it is our preferred option for providing service to our preference customers in the southeast Idaho region," he said.

Because BPA has identified it as the best alternative available to address BPA’s southeast Idaho loads, BPA has operated as a collaborating agency in the permitting process and entered into a cost-share financing agreement with Idaho Power and PacifiCorp. BPA is picking up roughly a quarter of the permitting costs.

The agreement does not obligate BPA to engage in any future construction.

SOURCE: American Public Power Association

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