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Federal Energy Plan Fast-Tracks Power Lines Across Northwest

The Obama administration's plan to fast-track transmission line construction includes three projects in Oregon and Idaho. Photo via energy.gov
The Obama administration's plan to fast-track transmission line construction includes three projects in Oregon and Idaho. Photo via energy.gov

Hundreds of miles of power lines across Oregon, Idaho and 10 other states would be fast-tracked under a federal plan announced Wednesday. The Obama administration hopes to create more jobs by speeding construction of Idaho Power and Portland General Electric transmission lines.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu says the country needs to modernize its power grid to meet future demand, and get more green energy to market.

It normally takes up to a decade from start to finish to complete a high-voltage transmission line. The federal government has chosen seven pilot projects to show it can be done faster.

Lauren Azar is a senior adviser at the Department of Energy. She says the streamlined plan doesn't bypass public input and environmental reviews. Rather, the federal government will assign staff to cut through agency red tape.

"Usually transmission projects are long and they go through multiple states and as a consequence, project applications can take a long time because there are so many players," Azar says. "And this is an attempt to get those players working more smoothly and in a coordinated fashion."

The plan includes three connected projects that stretch from Oregon's Willamette Valley through Idaho to eastern Wyoming.

Projects in the Northwest:

- Cascade Crossing, Salem to Boardman, Ore.

http://www.portlandgeneral.com/our_company/generation_transmission/cascade_crossing/default.aspx

- Boardman-Hemingway, Boardman, Ore. to Melba, Idaho

http://www.idahopower.com/AboutUs/PlanningForFuture/ProjectNews/BoardmanHemingway/default.cfm

- Gateway West Project, Melba, Idaho to Glenrock, Wyo.

http://www.gatewaywestproject.com/

National map of fast-tracked transmission lines:

http://trackingsystem.nisc-llc.com/etrans/defaultmap.pdf

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

Inland Northwest Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. From the politics of wolves to mining regulation to small town gay rights movements, Jessica covers the economic, demographic and environmental trends that are shaping places east of the Cascades.