Idaho Power and Portland General Electric (PGE) today announced they signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) as the basis for cooperation on proposed transmission lines originating near the city of Boardman in eastern Oregon. Idaho Power applied for permits to construct a proposed 300-mile, 500 kV transmission line connecting the Boardman power plant with the planned Hemingway station near Melba, Idaho. PGE is still evaluating plans for its proposed Southern Crossing 500kV project. The MOU provides the two utilities opportunity to integrate a portion of the proposed transmission lines if both projects move forward.

The utilities will explore mutual opportunities relating to the two transmission projects as well as their interconnection with existing facilities in the Boardman area. These activities could contribute to development of an interconnected transmission hub in the area – a concept currently under discussion among transmission providers throughout the region. The two projects are among a number of proposed transmission projects in eastern Oregon that are being coordinated by the Transmission Coordination Work Group. Idaho Power and PGE are both participants in the group.

“Transmission is a key factor in meeting today’s growing electric demand,” said Dan Minor, Idaho Power Sr. VP of Delivery. “Under many conditions, our wires are full today creating the need for new infrastructure to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of electricity to our customers. Our regionally integrated approach with this project enables the proposed transmission line to benefit the northwest region’s electric grid. Additionally, this MOU demonstrates our long-standing ability in the region to benefit our customers through cooperation on major projects.”

“PGE’s goal is to provide reliable electric power to our customers at a reasonable price,” said Joe McArthur, PGE’s vice president for transmission and customer service. “We’re going to need more transmission capacity to continue doing that – to meet growing demand for electricity and to help us bring increased amounts of renewable power into our service territory. It just makes sense for us to cooperate with other transmission providers as we develop and implement these plans.”

No major interregional transmission lines have been built in the Pacific Northwest in more than a decade. Existing transmission lines in the region are often at or near capacity, creating significant bottlenecks in the system as demand increases in population centers served by generation resources in eastern Oregon and eastern Washington.