In mid-December, Wood River Valley residents feared a repeat incident of a massive blackout, similar to the Christmas 2009 outage which left nearly 17,000 people in the dark. At the time, officials with Idaho Power said discussions were already underway for the construction of a new transmission line into the Valley. In this week's Idaho Mountain Express, Idaho Power said it plans to rebuild the transmission line, crossing 28.5 miles of public land. Officials say a new conductor line, at similar voltage, will allow for higher capacity. If all goes as planned, construction could start later this year and be completed in 2017.
An estimated project cost for a second 138,000-volt line from Hailey to Ketchum is approximately $30 million, with overhead lines stretching from the Wood River substation in Hailey to the St. Luke's Medical Center, then underground through Ketchum and Sun Valley.
"Blaine County, Ketchum and Sun Valley would have to pay for that underground cost," Idaho Power spokeswoman Lynette Standley told Boise Weekly in December. The underground cost would be approximately $2 million, with the city of Ketchum on the hook for the bulk of the expense. "Blaine County and Sun Valley have accepted our most recent applications. Ketchum is still reviewing their funding piece."
An environmental assessment from the Bureau of Land Management has been completed and is available for public comment until Monday, Jan. 19, and can be accessed by clicking here.