Friday, September 26, 2008

Stop the powerline project

Almost a year ago, my euphoric sense of life in the Little Wood River Valley was rudely interrupted. NorthWestern Energy, a utility company based in South Dakota, announced its plan to locate a 500kv power line 500 feet in front of my house. For perspective, lines of that type feature 125-foot-high steel towers every 1,400 feet and require a 220-foot-wide right of way.

The line is designed to transmit electricity to major power markets on the West Coast and inland cities such as Las Vegas. There would be no benefit to Idaho in terms of new power supplies (and potentially lower rates).

NorthWestern Energy has made its application for this project to the BLM, and has identified the route coming past the northern entrance to Craters of the Moon, across the south face of the Pioneers, through the Carey area, and then south across Silver Creek as its "alternate" route. Its preferred route crosses INL to the Snake River and then west to the midpoint substation.

It is shocking to me that a major piece of industrial infrastructure would even be proposed in an area that features a national monument, working ranches and farms (some protected by conservation easements held by The Nature Conservancy), a world-class trout fishery, the town of Carey and across some of the most important big game and sage grouse habitat and migration corridors in the United States. The proposal has drawn the ire of many local residents.

We the public now have until Oct. 10 to submit comments to the BLM. Please take the time to write a letter to the BLM stating your opinions about this proposal. This is the time your input will be heeded.

Please tell them that this project belongs in the corridors where transmission lines already exist and not in our community and one of the West's most spectacular landscapes.

Cindy Mann


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