More than four years after Camas leaders urged Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) officials to reconsider plans to place high-voltage transmission lines on an 80-mile stretch of land winding through Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon, the controversial project has come to halt.
BPA officials announced today that they will not build the I-5 Corridor Reinforcement Project, which would have sited 3.6 miles of 500-kilovolt transmission lines within Washougal’s Urban Growth Area, across the Washougal River, into Camas’ Groot Park region and across the Columbia River from Camas to Troutdale, Oregon.
The project, designed to meet growing energy transmission needs in the Portland-Vancouver region, first came under scrutiny in 2009, with many residents who lived near the proposed transmission line sites worrying about health risks and environmental damage. In 2013, Camas officials jumped into the discussion, urging BPA officials to minimize the project’s impact to the city’s planned urban growth area north of Lacamas Lake and to bury transmission lines within Camas city limits, per city ordinance.
BPA officials had nixed the city’s request for undergrounding, saying that it was not only cost-prohibitive but also came with failure risks if the lines were to overheat.
In 2016, BPA’s administrator, Elliot Mainzer, said BPA engineers were looking into other options, including “non-wire” options like energy efficiency measures and using small-scale power generation technology during peak load times to possibly avoid building the 80-mile transmission line project, which had, at that point, received more than…
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