POCATELLO, Idaho - Idaho Power held a public meeting Wednesday to discuss the Integrated Resource Plan, a plan that addresses needs over the next 20 years. And one of those needs is the Gateway West project.
That project will string power transmission lines across Wyoming and Idaho. But the fight is over where those towers will be placed -- on private land or in areas that hold sage grouse, which are close to being on the Endangered Species List.
"The focus of the plan is what types of new resources, other energy-efficiency and savings-type measures do we need to take to meet that forecasted demand," said Mark Stokes, director of water and resource planning.
One of the main projects to supply that demand is the Gateway West project, which will string transmission lines carrying 500 kilovolts, or 500,000 volts of power beginning in Douglas, WY and ending in Melba, ID.
Besides the sage grouse concern, many folks are also concerned about where the power will go. Idaho Power said their use of the power from the project will serve Idaho.
"And Rocky Mountain Power's need for the power is to serve it's load in multiple service territories," said Doug Dockter, manager of projects involving 500 kv projects. "Part of those territories are in Idaho and parts are in Oregon and California."
Dockter said none of the paths the line can take are 100% acceptable by all parties involved.
"It's challenging to site a power line," Dockter said. "Our goal is to balance the impacts that the power lines do have on both the environment as well as private property owners."
But all that power -- which is mostly hydroelectric -- is no good without water, and southeast Idaho has been experiencing severe drought.
"Because so much of our electricity comes from our hydroelectric system, we plan on a poor case to still be able to meet customers needs," said Stokes
Currently the Gateway West project is in the final stages of development. By the end of this year, there will be a final decision as to which of the optional paths the transmission lines will take.