Power line proposals generate new buzz

BPA to host another series of public meetings

By Erik Robinson, Columbian staff writer

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A proposed high-voltage transmission line cutting a swath through Clark County will be the subject of another round of public meetings beginning next week.

The Bonneville Power Administration will give brief presentations and then take questions about a new map of alternative routes. Released earlier this month, the new map includes dozens of alternative segments where the agency might string a new 500-kilovolt transmission line between new substations in Castle Rock and Troutdale, Ore.

Many residents were pleased by a new eastern route running through state and industrial timberland. This new eastern alternative largely skirts populated areas.

Power line Meetings

The Bonneville Power Administration will host four public meetings regarding its proposed I-5 Corridor Reinforcement Project. During each of the first three meetings, BPA will give a brief presentation at 5:30 p.m.

• Monday, Aug. 30: 4 to 7 p.m., Castle Rock Elementary, 700 Huntington Ave. S., Castle Rock.

• Tuesday, Aug. 31, 4 to 7 p.m., Skyview High School, 1300 N.W. 139th St., Vancouver.

• Wednesday, Sept. 8, 4 to 7 p.m., Mountain Valley Grange, 40107 N.E. 221st Ave., Amboy.

• Sunday, Sept. 12, noon to 6 p.m., Union High School, 6201 N.W. Friberg-Strunk St., Camas.

“I think, for the most part, BPA has listened to us and moved the lines,” said Michele Black, a board member for Citizens Against the Towers.

However, Bonneville also added alternative segments that affect an additional 300 to 400 property owners.

“They go, ‘Here’s your carrot, and now here’s a stick,’” Battle Ground-area resident Bryan Call said.

Call and his wife, Dawn Call, learned the home they purchased two years ago was suddenly adjacent to a new proposed segment straddling the western edge of the Yacolt Burn State Forest. BPA eliminated segments that would have crossed a series of new trails and campsites recently proposed by the state Department of Natural Resources, instead scooting the segment out to the western edge of the forest where a power line would run closer to homes such as the Calls’.

Bonneville hosted several meetings last fall, and now will host four more as it continues to consider the alternatives.

“There’s some new people in the process, and we certainly want to draw their attention to learn more,” BPA spokesman Doug Johnson said.

Galvanized by the prospect of a power line carried along on towers as tall as 150 feet, thousands of people have voiced their concern about the line’s potential effect on their health and property values. It marks the first time in four decades that Bonneville has cited a new transmission line in the Portland-Vancouver area.

Bonneville Administrator Steve Wright is due to make a final decision on the project, previously estimated to cost $342 million, in 2012.

The ultimate alignment could change the cost, which BPA anticipates financing through enhanced borrowing authority granted by Congress last year. Many of the proposed route segments include mile-wide corridors to provide plenty of space for BPA to select the most ideal spot for the ultimate 150-foot-wide easement.

Erik Robinson: 360-735-4551 or erik.robinson@columbian.com.