BPA declines to meet with county

Proposed power line would have been discussed

By Erik Hidle, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 
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Clark County was looking to have a sit-down with the Bonneville Power Administration before the public comment period ends on a 500-kilovolt line proposed to run through Clark and Cowlitz counties.

The BPA says it will pass.

"We declined the meeting as proposed to protect the integrity of what has been a very public and very publicly noticed process," said Doug Johnson, BPA spokesman. "We gave many opportunities to give oral comment."

Clark County Senior Policy Analyst Axel Swanson said he agrees the agency has offered the opportunity to comment, but he was hoping for a final workshop with stakeholders so the BPA could hear a solidified opinion on the preferred line.

"Some of the jurisdictions have similar feelings and views, and I think it would be good to bring stakeholders together," Swanson said. "My vision is it would have been like a work session."

Swanson said officials from Clark County, Cowlitz County, Castle Rock and Camas were all interested in attending such a meeting.

As proposed, the BPA line will stretch 79 miles between Castle Rock and Troutdale, Ore., connecting new substations at each end. The line will span mostly rural areas, crossing the Clark-Cowlitz county line just below Merwin Dam. It steers clear of the Vancouver urban area.

Clark County has yet to make an official statement on the preferred line. But at work sessions the commissioners have appeared displeased by the decision.

Swanson said an official statement will be written to the BPA before written comment ends on March 25.

The county plans to issue a "section-by-section" response, Swanson said, noting some concerns the county has with the line.

"A clear position we've reiterated over and over again with BPA is the routes should have been looked at in Oregon," Swanson said. "We think it would have been fair to look at those as well. The route also crosses 49 rivers or streams that would be highly impacted. There are parts of this route that raise serious questions."

Residents can still submit written testimony to BPA through the agency's website or by mail at I-5 Corridor Reinforcement Project, P.O. Box 9250, Portland, OR 97207.

The deadline for comments is noon March 25.