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Blaine County P&Z Denies Permit for Second Transmission Line, Idaho Power Moves Forward With Application to PUC

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IDAHO POWER
  • Idaho Power
After years of planning, a redundant power line through the Wood River Valley has hit a major snag. The Idaho Mountain Express reports Blaine County commissioners have voted 4-1 to deny a conditional use permit for the proposed transmission line, citing the project's "potential effect on scenery along Idaho Highway 75 and on property values."

A good many Wood River families and visitors shudder when they recall Christmas 2009, when a massive storm knocked out power to much of the region, shutting down ski lifts, blacking out the Sun Valley Resort and forcing nearly 17,000 people to eat Christmas dinner by candlelight. That experience dialed up the discussion for a redundant power line to back-up the valley's sole 138,000-volt transmission line.

A second 138,000-volt line could cost as much as $30 million and several options have been put on the table, including moving some of the transmission line underground. But local communities would need to shoulder a greater cost, depending on how much of the line would be subterranean.

Nonetheless, Blaine County P&Z commissioners told Idaho Power they wanted to see more alternatives before the commissioners nixed the permit. The Mountain Express reports Idaho Power will appeal the denial while still moving forward with its full application to the Idaho Public Utilities Commission. If the PUC approves the application, that might void the P&Z denial, according to the Mountain Express.

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