The City of La Grande is weighing in on the Boardman to Hemingway debate.

The La Grande City Council has issued a proclamation declaring its opposition to the proposed 300-mile Boardman to Hemingway 500-kilovolt transmission power line, which would pass through Union County and the La Grande area.

“I am very pleased that the city council is advocating for the citizens,” said Peter Barry, a member of the Stop B2H Coalition and resident of La Grande. “(The proclamation) makes the citizens feel like they are being listened to by their representatives.”

Idaho Power is leading the effort to get the B2H line built with help from partners PacifiCorp and the Bonneville Power Administration. It will cost about $1 billion. Idaho Power is considering two routes through La Grande, both in the Morgan Lake area. The Mill Creek route would be highly visible while passing through La Grande, whereas the Morgan Lake route would be much less visible.

The council’s proclamation stated that if the B2H project does go forward, the route known as the Bureau of Land Management Preferred Route is also the city’s preferred route through the La Grande area. Barry said a study by the BLM indicates its preferred route would cause less environmental damage and the B2H’s power lines would be less visible than the Mill Creek or Morgan Lake routes.

The BLM’s preferred route is also known as the Glass Hill Alternate Route. It would come out of Ladd Canyon and run south of the proposed Mill Creek and Morgan Lake routes.

“The City believes the BLM Preferred Route is a viable option that would not impact the City of La Grande,” the proclamation states.

City Manager Robert Strope said the City of La Grande will have no official influence on whether the B2H line will eventually be approved or on which route it would take through Union County because none of the routes under consideration would pass through La Grande city limits. He said if a portion of the proposed route was within the city limits, the City of La Grande could ask the Oregon Department of Energy that the B2H project meet certain city standards.

La Grande Mayor Steve Clements said city officials have told B2H officials at every meeting they have had in recent years that the city does not want the transmission line to come through here. He cited the visual impact of transmission lines and the damage to the environment their construction and presence would cause.

Clements noted if the Morgan Lake route were used, the power lines would not be visible from La Grande, but at Morgan Lake they would be easy to see, harming the area’s view shed.

The Mill Creek and Morgan Lake routes are now being examined by the state’s Energy Siting Council. Should the siting council determine both proposed routes meet state standards, Idaho Power will select one, Sven Berg of Idaho Powder told The Observer in early April. Final approval of the route would later have to be given by the Oregon Department of Energy.

See complete story in Monday's Observer

22995344