Complete list of requests

Union County Commissioners request the Oregon Department of Energy staff take these six issues under serious consideration and include them in the Final Order.

Request #1:

Oregon Department of Energy staff needs to clearly identify a process for conflict resolution between Union County and the Site Certificate Holder or Site Certificate Holder’s contractor for all approval conditions requiring plan development after Site Certificate approval is granted and prior to construction activities commencing in Union County. This shall be included in the language of the Site Certificate if approved.

Request #2:

During construction activities of the B2H Project in Union County, the Site Certificate Holder will contract with a local Union County Wildlands Firefighting contractor qualified by the Oregon Department of Forestry or the USDA Forest Service and have a Type 6 or Type 4 engine and crew on site at construction locations during all construction activities outside of multi-use areas.

Request #3:

During construction activities of the B2H Project the Site Certificate Holder and Site Certificate Holder’s contractor(s) shall provide emergency contact information to the following:

• Union County Sheriff’s Office and Dispatch

• Union County Emergency Services Office

• Union County Public Works Department

• City of La Grande Police Department

• Oregon Department of Forestry

• USDA Forest Service, La Grande Ranger Station

• Blue Mountain Interagency Dispatch Center

Emergency contact information shall include individual’s name, company individual works for, position individual holds within that company, phone number and business address.

Request #4:

Union County requests Idaho Power Company or the Site Certificate Holder to use the Alternative Route (aka the Morgan Lake route) identified in the application for Site Certificate of the B2H Project.

Request #5:

Union County requires a $500,000 bond from Idaho Power Company to pay for noxious weed control costs in the event that adequate weed control is not conducted by Idaho Power Company at any point over the initial 20 years of construction and operation of the B2H Project (as determined by the county weed supervisor). This bond will help offset costs if the county must go through the enforcement process and contract the noxious weed treatments themselves. The bond amount is based on estimated contractor control costs for the roughly 3,500 acres of disturbed ground and Site Boundary areas along with 55 miles of disturbed/new roads that will be within Union County.

Request #6:

During construction activities of the B2H Project in Union County, the Site Certificate Holder will contract with a local North East Oregon noxious weed control operator, licensed by the Oregon Department of Agriculture for noxious weed control activities. After construction activities and for the life of the transmission line Oregon Revised Statue 569.390 will be used for the control of noxious weeds in Union County for all lands.

Source: Union County Board of Commissioners

The construction of the proposed Boardman to Hemingway transmission line through Union County could make this area become more vulnerable to wildfires, road damage, the spread of noxious weeds and the loss of viewsheds.

These are among the risks the Union County Board of Commissioners are requesting the state address in the event the B2H project is approved despite Union County’s objections. The commissioners did so in a letter sent Thursday to Kellen Tardaewether, a senior siting analyst for the Oregon Department of Energy, which has a big influence on determining the fate of the B2H transmission line in Oregon.

The Boardman to Hemingway transmission line would run for 300 miles from Boardman to the Hemingway substation in Southwest Idaho. The line would be built by Idaho Power, which is leading the B2H project with major assistance from the Bonneville Power Administration and PacifiCorp. It has been contended that the county will not benefit from the transmission line yet will be severely impacted by its construction and presence.

Major requests made in the Union County Commissioners’ letter, which was approved and signed by Commissioners Paul Anderes, Donna Beverage and Matt Scarfo on Wednesday, include requiring that the firm doing the B2H work, likely Idaho Power, contract with a Union County wildland firefighting company that meets Oregon Department of Forestry or U.S. Forest Service qualification standards. The commissioners’ request calls for the wildland firefighting company to have an engine and crew on site during all construction activities outside of multi-use areas. Multi-use areas are gravel lay down yards where heavy equipment is kept at work sites while a project is underway, Beverage said.

Having wildland firefighters on hand would be critical, the letter says, because of the nature of this area’s topography and the risks posed by construction work.

“Union County is comprised of terrain that can be challenging to reach by emergency vehicles and during the summer months is usually under a high industrial fire precaution level. Since the building of a new 500kv high voltage transmission line in Union County is not a normal activity or occurrence, we feel there could be a greater potential for wildland fires because of the increased construction activity level in our country,” the commissioners wrote.

The impact the B2H project will have on gravel roads in Union County is also addressed in the letter. The roads the commissioners said would be affected by B2H work include Jimmy Creek, Olsen, Heber, Bushnell, Marvin, Hawthorne, Rock Creek and Dark Canyon roads.

“Depending on how the power line is constructed, and the types of construction equipment used, these roads will need additional maintenance,” the commissioners wrote.

The letter also addresses Morgan Lake and Glass Hill roads, both gravel roads, upon which Idaho Power or one of its contractors would be hauling heavy construction equipment. The letter states that Idaho Power should be required to widen Morgan Lake Road so it can accommodate two lanes of traffic and that its guardrail should be installed for the full length of the road. The letter also states that Idaho Power should be required to do extensive maintenance work on Glass Hill Road.

“All roads that will be used to construct the B2H power line are farm to market roads and do not experience this type of construction traffic,” the commissioners wrote. “Union County will require (Idaho Power Company) to review the condition of the roads with Union County Public Works Director to develop a maintenance and safety plan that will keep Union County roads in current or better condition.”

The issue of noxious weeds is also addressed in the letter, because activity on the ground can cause seeds of toxic weeds to germinate. The commissioners are requesting a $500,000 bond from Idaho Power to pay for noxious weed control costs “in the event that adequate weed control is not conducted by Idaho Power Company at any point over the initial 20 years of construction and operation of the B2H project.”

The letter states that “Union County believes that no portion of the B2H Project should be sited within Union County.” However, if this objection is ignored, the letter is asking that Idaho Power install the transmission line via the alternative Morgan Lake route, which would run south of the proposed Mill Creek route in the Morgan Lake area. Transmission lines on this route would be much less visible than on the Mill Creek route, Beverage said.

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