SALEM - State Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day) has introduced a bill that would stop Idaho Power from building a transmission line across Eastern Oregon ranch lands.
"If anything is clear, it is that Idaho Power has badly underestimated the passion with which families will fight to protect their farms and ranches against the intrusion of Oregon's first 500kV transmission line crossing exclusive farm use land," said Ferrioli. "It's not only about the view shed, the alleged health affects or even the threat of condemnation that galls, it is the knowledge that Idaho Power analyzed alternatives and concluded that it would be easier to roll over ordinary citizens than to confront environmental groups who will likely litigate any route involving wildlife habitat."
Idaho Power is planning to build a 500 kilo-volt (kV) transmission line that would run 299 miles from Hemingway, Idaho, to Boardman in Oregon.
About 88 percent of the transmission line would run along private land, 11 percent on federal land, and 1 percent on other regions.
Approximately 30 of those miles would cross private and exclusive farm use (EFU) zoned land in the fertile Owyhee, Malheur, and Snake River valleys of northeastern Malheur County. This is one of the state's most productive agricultural lands.
Senate Bill 644 would only allow transmission lines of 400,000 volts or less to be constructed on land zoned for exclusive farm use.
"Our goal with this legislation is to encourage Idaho power to rethink the proposed route and do the right thing for Oregon citizens," Ferrioli said. "It's not about stopping the transmission lines. It is about location of those lines."