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New Transmission Lines Invite Public Uproar in 7 States

On March 2 more than 60 residents of Canyon City, Idaho appeared at a public hearing to consider a new 500-kilovolt transmission line that might run through their county. Most weren’t happy about it. “They brought us in late and they haven’t fulfilled their public involvement responsibilities,” said Ken Holliday, a rancher.

The public concern that residents displayed about Idaho Power’s 250-foot corridor, and the 150-foot tall towers that would command its route, is a microcosm of the fierce resistance that citizens are mounting in Idaho now, but also in seven more states. Idaho Power abandoned another route along I-84 because of even stiffer citizen opposition.

In February 2009 President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which included $10.9 billion to upgrade and modernize the electric ... The idea is to extend the grid to places it doesn’t reach now, and to make electric transmission much more efficient. The injection of federal funds has prompted a surge in proposals for new transmission construction projects. It’s also unnerved many communities because of the lands that would be disturbed and public concerns, none proven, that high energy transmission lines are a health hazard.

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