BPA selects ‘Central Alternative’

Segment 52 will impact Camas

The Bonneville Power Administration announced Wednesday that it has identified the “Central Alternative” using Central Option 1 as its preferred alternative for the I-5 Corridor Reinforcement Project.

“We have heard from many people their desire for us to identify a preferred alternative sooner rather than later,” said BPA Administrator Steve Wright. “The preferred alternative represents a healthy balance of our accountability to the region, particularly to those who participated in the public process; our responsibility to manage costs for regional ratepayers; our role as responsible environmental stewards and our goal of operating a reliable transmission system.”

According to a BPA press release, the current cost estimate for the preferred alternative is $459 million and avoids many small, rural parcels of private land by crossing significant lengths of land held by large public and private landowners, as well as avoiding the most environmentally, mission-sensitive and high impact lands these entities manage on the East Alternative.

Segment 52, which is included in the BPA’s preferred alternative, is 3.6 miles long and travels through the Washougal Urban Growth Area, crosses the Washougal River and runs through Camas 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.

During Monday night’s Camas City Council meeting, Mayor Scott Higgins said he had a mixed reaction to the news.

In meetings with BPA officials, city leaders had asked that they consider several requests, including minimizing the impacts to the Camas Urban Growth area north of Lacamas Lake and burying any new lines that fall within city limits, in accordance with city ordinance.

While Line 50, which would have cut through the Camas UGA, is not part of the Central Alternative, Community Development Director Phil Bourquin said it appears that the possibility of burying the lines has been eliminated from any further detailed study.

“We are disappointed that two of the three things we asked for were heard, but not answered,” Higgins said. “It’s a partial victory, but it’s not everything we asked for.”

Councilman Steve Hogan said he was disappointed that apparently no consideration was given to moving some portions of the project east toward Bonneville Dam or burying the lines underground.

“It irks me to no end that all alternatives came through Camas,” he said.

According to the BPA, there are 327 homes within 500 feet of the preferred alternative, while there are 3,032 within 500 feet of the West Alternative. Comparatively, there are slightly more homes within 500 feet of the preferred alternative than the East Alternative.

Accordin to the BPA, the primary driver for the proposed 79-mile line that would connect a new substation north of Castle Rock, Wash., with another new substation in Troutdale, Ore., is to maintain system reliability in the area.

City leaders will be asking BPA officials to attend the City Council’s Jan. 15 meeting, to further discuss the issues.

To view a map of the alternatives and the draft environmental impact statement, visit www.bpa.gov.