City officials will sit down with BPA decision makers

Meeting regarding I-5 Corridor project will take place in Camas next month

Camas city officials are one step closer to getting what they have been hoping for — a face-to-face meeting with BPA decision makers.

Last night City Administrator Lloyd Halverson announced that a meeting had been scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 12 — in Camas. BPA officials in attendance will be Bill Drummond, deputy director; Larry Bekkedahl, vice president of transmission, engineering and technical services; Liz Klumpp, government affairs representative; and Mark Korsness, project manager. City representatives on hand will include Halverson, Mayor Scott Higgins, Community Development Director Phil Bourquin and one member of the City Council.

Halverson said influence from representatives of U.S. Sen. Patty Murray’s office helped make the meeting possible.

Discussions will focus on the proposed 500-kilovolt transmission line from Troutdale, Ore., to Castle Rock, Wash. According to the BPA, the project is necessary due to growing populations, and increasing demand for electricity.

Several of the proposed lines travel through the Camas area.

Lines 41 and 50 impact the North Urban Growth Area north of Lacamas Lake, which is the focus of the city’s 20-year plan for future development; lines 40, 44 and 46 run through Camas Meadows Corporate Center; and line 52 is in the Goot Park area. In addition, a river crossing from Troutdale to Camas is the only Columbia River crossing that is being considered for the project.

City Councilman Steve Hogan, who has been a very vocal critic of the project, once again urged those Camas city officials who would be attending the Sept. 12 meeting to push for BPA to bury any new power lines underground — as is required by city ordinance approved in 1995.

Halverson’s comments last night indicated he was cautious about predicting the results of the upcoming meeting.

“I don’t expect we are going to leave the meeting with any firm commitment from BPA,” he said, later adding, “It will give us a chance to really focus on our unique circumstances and know we have had the chance to bring this to the decision makers at BPA.”

So far, city officials have indicated that communications about their concerns to the Bonneville Power Administration, which have ranged from phone calls and official letters to in-person meetings and city council presentations with BPA staff, have not gotten the desired response.

The Camas City Council in March approved a resolution requesting consideration of alternatives to placing the 500 kilovolt power lines within city limits.

“We urge the appropriate authorities to insist that Bonneville Power Administration consider and select alternatives, through the alternatives analysis portion of an environmental impact statement, that route the I-5 Corridor Reinforcement Project away from the urban area known as the City of Camas, and to further insist that no alternative be considered that includes routing of power lines above ground through the city of Camas.”

The BPA recently announced that the draft environmental impact statement originally expected to be released this past spring would be delayed until late fall. A proposed preferred alternative route will also be revealed at that time.

“BPA is completing data collection, analyzing a multitude of factors and identifying necessary permitting processes,” said a statement from the BPA issued in June. “The delay allows us to provide the most thorough environmental analysis possible.”

BPA will have a booth at the Vancouver Farmers Market on Saturday, Sept. 1, staffed with BPA representatives and general information for the public.

For more information about the project, visit www.bpa.gov/corporate/i-5-eis.