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Spring Ahead & Onward!








 
March 2022


News & Updates


 
 Stop B2H Coalition
 

 
The power of life
Runs through veins of sunlit leaves,
Not transmission lines.
Haiku from Karen Antell
Contents: (click links jump to that section; there's a lot in this update!)
"David & Goliath Battle..." (update on the B2H Contested Case) + Two Highlights
"Year-end Fundraiser Success!"
"Idaho Power Bullying Landowners" + ODOE (non) Response
"It's Official: BPA pulls out of B2H!"
Making a Difference Early: (rules & regulatory)
STOP's Energy Research, Talking Points and Links for Action
Allies & Actions: Wins, Jobs, and Get Involved...
Something New: Shareholder Initiative!
Help Wanted, Donate, Contact Us!
David & Goliath Battle Continues...
an update on the Contested Case

The fearless and proud petitioners against the B2H filed their closing briefs on Feb 28th with the Administrative Law Judge in the contested case against the B2H.  We call them the "Contested Case Warriors" because they have endured 18 months of legal and administrative procedural hammering. Some procedures are endemic to the system, and are inherently unfriendly to the public; and some are initiated by Idaho Power attorneys to wear us down.

Contrary to their efforts, there are still 19 of us standing with 33 distinctly unique issues.  Issues range from:  Scenic Values to Noise Control to Traffic & Safety to Soil Protection and many more... We are highlighting two cases below and more to come with our next news.


On March 30th, the Contested Case Warriors will be filing "response briefs" to challenge Idaho Power’s and/or Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE)'s closing briefs; and they will be doing the same against us. The judge is expected to rule on the case by the end of May. 

Then, the recommendation and ruling of the judge will go before EFSC (the Energy Facilities Siting Council, aka: "the Council") for the final determination of a B2H site certificate and include any mandatory conditions to the certificate.  This should occur in June or July 2022. 

Following all of this, and depending on the Council's decision and our fiscal resources, an appeal can be filed to the Oregon Supreme Court.  Stay tuned...
Two Contested Case Highlights...
Kevin has been a small town acupuncturist for 30 years and is a lifelong Oregonian. Anne is a Spanish teacher and has been an Oregonian for 40 years. They’ve been active in outdoor pursuits their entire lives, whether floating the Grande Ronde River with their kids, or hiking the Owyhee backcountry.  They believe passionately in the saying of “Think globally, act locally” and don’t believe that this project is appropriate either globally or locally. 
Our Case Against B2H: Fish Passage
Anne & Kevin March

I-84 in Eastern Oregon was routed through Ladd Canyon in the 1950s, blocking 86 square miles of high-quality spawning and rearing habitat for threatened Snake River Basin Steelhead (SRBS), extirpating SRBS from the Ladd Creek watershed.  Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) completed projects on I-84 in 2015 and 2019 (at a cost of $30 million) to address this fish passage blockage.  In 2016 an SRBS redd was documented by ODOT in the area above the I-84 crossing in the newly opened waters of upper Ladd Creek. Neither Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) nor the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have done habitat or spawning surveys since the 2015 completion of the project. Our contested case is the only reason both agencies and Idaho Power knew about the presence of SRBS in the watershed.   READ ON...
Matt Cooper is a retired music professor at Eastern Oregon University who has lived in La Grande since 1991. Prior to that, he lived in Eugene, Portland, and Cincinnati, Ohio.
 
In addition to fighting Idaho Power, his other hobbies include exploring the outdoors in beautiful Northeast Oregon and beyond, include hiking, bicycling, Nordic skiing, and climbing. Though retired from college teaching, he continues performing as a professional keyboardist as well as teaching private lessons through a local arts center. In addition to serving on the board of Stop B2H Coalition, he is president of a local music teachers association.
My Case Against B2H: Wildfire Risk and Protection
Matt Cooper
 
Case issue statement PS-4:  “Whether Applicant (Idaho Power) adequately analyzed the risk of wildfire arising out of operation of the proposed facility and the ability of local firefighting service providers to respond to fires.”
 
Idaho Power minimized the risk of fire in this region by a blizzard of articles and expert witness testimony. Much of it sought to minimize or gloss over the risk of fire by means of impressive-looking tables, maps covering huge areas with very little detail and few landmarks, “averages” of wind speeds and slope angles, etc. They sought to demonstrate that prevailing wind patterns in the Grande Ronde Valley during “fire season” would blow any fire away from La Grande. Their analysis of wildland fire in this region only went back 30 years, so omitted the large and destructive Rooster Peak fire of 1973, which burned to the very edge of La Grande.  READ ON...
2021 Year-End Fund Appeal was a Huge Success - THANK YOU!  

We’d love to tell you about all the cool ways that your donations have been spent; however, 100% of all proceeds are going to support our legal fees in our Contested Case against the B2H at the State Energy Facilities Siting Council (EFSC).  So, our report is short: a single expense, "legal". 

For the more curious:  we had 148 donors and we net over $29,000.  This was an incredible success! And the data shows how important stopping the B2H is for so many of us!  The winner of the New Year’s drawing was long-time supporter Margaret—who then immediately turned around and donated the gift back to STOP for our next fundraiser!  Congrats Margaret and Thanks Again! 
 
In addition to Margaret and all of the generous donations, we were humbled by many notes of appreciation and encouragement, that we had to share a few:
 
“ … I so appreciate all the blood, sweat and tears you and the volunteers have put in to this. Your dedication and determination are such a gift to this community. “
 
“Once again—but not as often as should be—I thank you, and the other dedicated people who are working to STOP the desecration of our area and more.  I know all of you have spent thousands of hours, enough energy to power the valley’s needs for decades, and untold amounts of $ on this abomination. You all are really appreciated and much admired.  Thank you—without end.”
 
“Congratulations to everyone on an awesome display of knowledge and spirit!”

 
We’re so grateful for your encouragement and financial support.  As we celebrate every step, and spring ahead with pride, we still have a long way to go!  Please consider being a
sustaining donor; we need your help every month as bills continue and our case continues.  Thank You Very Much!  -Stop B2H Coalition

Idaho Power is Bullying Local Landowners
 
You may have seen some recent news media about Idaho Power taking local landowners to circuit court to gain access to their land for pre-construction surveys. Or, maybe you clicked on our recent Action Alert about the same?  This is for pre-condemnation proceedings (aka eminent domain) -- for a transmission line that has not been approved!

The B2H application is still under consideration; more specifically, it is in a contested case that needs to be resolved before final consideration and decisions are made by the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) Energy Facility Siting Council (EFSC). As we said in the "David & Goliath" update above, this is not expected until summer. There could even be more court challenges before a final decision is made.  Obviously, Idaho Power’s pre-condemnation process is premature; it ignores the established state process for conducting pre-construction surveys. 
READ ON... including the reply from the Director of ODOE...
It’s Official:  BPA pulls out of ownership of the B2H!

BPA enters into alternative transmission agreement
 
After 16 years of analysis the BPA (Bonneville Power Administration) decided that owning a portion of the B2H was not financially viable for them. Instead, in order to serve their wholesale... 
READ ON...  (a revised and updated story and Letter to the Editor in the La Grande Observer.)
photo credit: Ashley O'Toole
“You don’t know what you’ve got til its gone!”
 
Making a Difference Early: Regulatory and Actions

Let’s face it: rulemaking is boring and planning seems to never end... But, this is where the rubber meets the road! Getting involved early increases our chances of influencing and success. Got ten minutes? Check out these segments and if you have any interest or can help, contact us now! info@stopb2h.org
  •  Utility Wildfire rulemaking
  • Scenic, Protected, and Recreational Areas rulemaking
  • CPCN (aka Condemnation or Eminent Domain) rulemaking
  • Idaho Power’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) is underway again in both states!
  • Idaho Power’s Exemption Request to competitive bidding rules in both states. 
New Flash: The Oregon PUC denied Idaho Power's (IPC) request for an exemption to bidding rules! Commissioners state that “it feels like IPC maybe gaming the systemand IPC seems to have a problem following Oregon rules. The Order & video link, here.
Photo (Above):  Paradise, California
Utility Wildfire Planning and Rulemaking

Wildfire Rulemaking (AR 638) and Idaho Power’s Wildfire Mitigation Plan - 2022 (UM 2209)

There are 2 dockets of interest to STOP and our Coalition. First, the Wildfire Rulemaking (AR 638) that all utilities will have to follow which has the most interest; and second, the specific utilities’ Wildfire Plans for 2022 (IPC-UM 2209, PGE-UM 2208, PAC-UM 2207).

The Wildfire Rulemaking,
in this memo,  has the red line of the rules based on all comments and meetings thus far, a deadline of March 25, 2022 for final comments before the April 7, 2022 Public Meeting.  The record is in the AR 638 docket.

Idaho Power’s Wildfire Mitigation Plan for 2022 (UM 2209) has closed for comments. The independent evaluators report is due 3/29/22, the staff report 4/14/22, and a Special Public meeting 4/21/22 to issue the final order. All utilities will file a new Wildfire protection plan by December 31st every year hereafter.

If anyone has questions contact Jim Kreider at
jkreider@campblackdog.org.
Photo (above): Entrance to Morgan Lake Park, Union Co.
Protected, Scenic and Recreational Areas

Remember:  “You don’t know what you’ve got til its gone.”  This rulemaking is being undertaken by ODOE/EFSC—yup, our same opponent in the contested case with Idaho Power.  But as the future pressure for energy developments continue in our state, Idaho Power will not be the only developer of concern.  The pressure on our beloved scenic, protected and recreational areas will be under threat. 

Learn and influence the new rules for protection of these resources – and the siting of facilities.Six of us have been involved in the year-long process to gather input before formal rulemaking begins.Therefore, it’s not too late because the ODOE rules coordinator is still accepting input until April 11th!The formal rulemaking process (amending the current rules) is not expected to begin until sometime this summer. We would love you to Join Us! 

This in from ODOE/EFSC: 
REQUEST FOR COMMENTS:  Before it initiates formal rulemaking proceedings, the Council is seeking additional comments and recommendations from interested stakeholders on the draft proposed rules, including recommendations on whether the rule changes under consideration would have a fiscal impact, what the extent of that impact would be, and whether the rule would have a significant adverse impact on small businesses. A detailed analysis of the issues and recommendations for this project as well as the draft proposed rules are provided below:
To ensure your comments are fully considered, please submit them by Monday, April 11, 2022 through the Council's online comment portal, or by email to: efsc.rulemaking@energy.oregon.gov. Formal Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and additional opportunities to provide public comments will be provided later in these proceedings. 
Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN)
aka: Land Taking, Condemnation, or Eminent Domain

STOP has been the only “public” showing up since before covid at the meetings for updating the rules for condemnation of land or eminent domain - AR 626.  This can only occur by an order of the OPUC in a CPCN process which will follow these new rules when approved. 

We have been  advocating for an environmental justice (EJ) filter in the OPUC decision making,  including more attention toward economic impacts to rural landowners and their livelihoods.

The commission published the proposed rules from the 2/1/22 Special Public meeting. It is moving to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking which concludes the informal phase and begins the formal comment phase. As of this writing no new calendar has been established for the formal phase. Stay tuned!    This is the order with the new rules and this to the full AR 626 docket record. Contact Jim if you want to know more: jkreider@campblackdog.org

Idaho Power’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP)
is underway again in both states!


STOP is an intervener again in this planning process at the Idaho and Oregon Public Utility Commissions (IPUC/OPUC). The 2021 IRP had troubles before it started. Before the ink was dry on the 2019 IRP Idaho Power knew they were in trouble. In June 2021 they put out an RFP (request for proposal) for 78 MW of new energy, under the OPUC 80 MW competitive bidding limit, to be installed by 2025. They got no bidders.
 
Before they filed their 2021 IRP on 12/31/21 they filed an application for Waiver of Competitive Bidding Rules on 12/9/21 for 598 MW of new energy. Idaho Power discovered or fabricated that suddenly they needed 101 MW in 2023, 186 MW in 2024, and 311 MW in 2025. In denying the waiver the OPUC said.  READ ON...

 
The IRP is a utility planning process which: forecasts energy needs and resources 20 years into the future, with a 5 year “short term” Action Plan. The plan needs to be reviewed by the PUC of each state that utility does business in, every two years. STOP has been involved in these planning processes as participants and interveners in both states since 2015.
Keep up on the latest developments in featured newsletter stories from our Stop B2H Energy Researchers:

Biden, Infrastructure and Grid Modernization,  Link.
Dissecting the Narrative on Transmission, Link.
The Unruly Grid, Link
.
 
COOL RESOURCES:
Easy backgrounder on the Grid with video.
Map of Power generation in the PNW.
Community Power Scorecard.


And don't forget to Take Action using the next box...
TAKE ACTION:

Write or call our Federal Officials (cc: the Governor and State Officials too).

Tell them what the energy infrastructure funds should be spent on! Tell them what you think about the B2H & better, immediate, investments, such as:
  • Reform regulations governing grid interconnections, alleviating costs for renewable energy to get an "on-ramp" to the grid.
  • Make our (3) existing 230 kV lines into 345 kV’s in the same corridors; double circuit where possible.
  • Digitize the substations and create bi-directional flows in our distribution system.
  • Fire-harden all existing lines/components and substations.
  • Incentivize & invest in renewable energy economic development targeting local green energy projects, not obsolete long-distance transmission.
  • As needed, bury long-distance DC transmission lines along existing railway or interstate rights of way (ROW).
Click here for contact info/addresses for public officials!
Allies & Actions...
Good News from around the nation & our networks: 
  • Oregon:  Perennial Wind Chaser’s natural gas plant is dead! The infamous road to nowhere in Umatilla County where ODOE allowed amendments and another delay to keep the developer’s site certificate active-past the date that the construction was supposed to begin.  This delayed construction has been so long that between Oregon’s green energy legislation and no one willing to buy the dirty power from them, has caused the company to call it quits.  Big Win for Oregon’s fossil-free future and our allies working on this.
  • Wisconsin:  Hickory Creek Transmission Line:Courts halt project--Can’t Go under the River!  (Mississippi River Refuge)
 
  • Have you been tracking the Blue Mountain Trail?
    Check it out
    here. Our friends and member organization, Greater Hells Canyon Council (GHCC) is spear-heading the effort to make this long-distance through-trail a reality for our region and all!  So exciting!
Job Announcements! 

Oregon Rural Action, a Stop B2H Coalition member organization is currently seeking qualified applicants for the following positions:
For more information and how to apply, follow the LINKS above.
Think Globally Act Locally!
 
Local renewables, easy access to the grid, bi-directional distribution, community solar projects, micro-hydro, micro-grids, and more… Are we modeling the energy future that we’d like to realize? Locally, "not so much."  

This could become exciting and inspiring work.  Get Involved!  A new team is forming with member organization, Oregon Rural Action.They are also hiring an organizer (see job announcement under “Allies Actions” above.) Contact us,
info@stopb2h.org to get started right from the beginning.

 
Let’s shape our energy future together! 
For Something Totally New!
 
Shareholder Initiative: Pushing the Company to do the Right Thing!

One of our Idaho allies is also an Idaho Power shareholder and she has proposed a shareholder initiative for this coming May’s shareholder annual meeting.  She was successful once before—in 2009 to stop a coal plant investment, so this is not “pie in the sky” type of thinking.  Kiki Tidwell, from Hailey, Idaho wants our help.

In a nutshell, her initiative, "Report on Climate Transition Plan"
  • "IDACORP has a goal of 100 percent renewable generation by 2045, however it has not identified tangible interim goals in order to be able to achieve that goal.
  • IDACORP has not set short, medium, or long term absolute GHG reduction targets for its Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, nor a Science-based Target for a Net Zero future."

BE IT RESOLVED: Shareholders request that IDACORP issue a report within a year, and annually thereafter...disclosing short, medium, and long term greenhouse gas targets aligned with the Paris Agreement's goal...

Do you have an interest in this sort of advocacy?  We need YOU!  Our volunteers are spread thin but an initiative like this needs more momentum!  To get involved, Kiki recommends that you start by buying a share in IdaCorp ASAP, so that you can participate in the Annual Meeting in May--and VOTE! 

More information: one pager--here; letter--here. Or, contact us: Info@stopb2h.org 

More on Kiki Tidwell: An 'angel investor' that invests in renewable and climate-friendly projects; she has gone head-to-head with Idaho Power on a number of projects and policies, and sees through Idaho Power's green washing of transmission projects, pointing out their poor investments. 

"The Board has committed to the B2H transmission line project, which leaves Idaho residents vulnerable to power availability and pricing 305 miles away in Oregon at competitively peak hours.  The Board has also submitted to the Idaho PUC a transmission line project in the Wood River Valley that commits all Idaho ratepayers to pay for $14 million of undergrounding line charges in Ketchum, Idaho, and also institutes a $22 million regressive flat tariff for 20 years on all ratepayers in Blaine County, regardless of ability to afford this tariff.  A diversity of perspective on IdaCorp’s board, reflective of the economic reality of average Idaho and Oregon citizens, will enable the Board to make better decisions on behalf of all ratepayers." -K.Tidwell

 
Help Wanted!  
  • Please share your PHOTOS for our P.R. material and outreach (places and things that represent our issues or places we cherish).
  • Legal help or knowledge about land condemnation/eminent domain.
  • Grassroots advocacy help—there's something for everyone: local energy projects, protected areas, Stop B2H lobbying.
  • Outreach volunteers: web, social media, events, fundraisers, communications.
  • Board members: willingness to apply your skills… We Need YOU!
 Contact us:  info@stopb2h.org  
WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Please
donate to our Legal Fund.
Not a member?  Sign up on our website stopb2h.org "Join Us!"
DONATE
Stop B2H Coalition, grassroots people fighting to STOP
a 300 mile invasive 500kv transmission line across Eastern Oregon

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