Breaking Down Gateway West

Oct 26, 2011

BOISE, ID –Idaho ranks in the top five for growth in the U.S. in the last decade. That’s according to Census data.  That growth brings an increasing demand for power not just here but around the country.  Transmission lines are needed to handle additional electricity. So some power companies want to build new lines through the Gem state including Idaho Power and Wyoming- based Rocky Mountain Power. Those two companies have teamed up to build the “Gateway West Project.” The new lines would cross hundreds of miles of public and private land across almost all of southern Idaho.  Samantha Wright talked with Idaho Power’s Director of the Project, Todd Adams, to find out how Gateway West got started.

Todd Adams directs Gateway West for Idaho Power. He says it could take several years before actual lines would go up.  Opponents of the Project question whether an 11 hundred mile transmission line is really necessary.  Paul Kjellander is one of three Idaho Public Utility Commissioners.  He’s followed energy issues since the late ‘90’s.

Paul Kjellander “We have an aging infrastructure.  And not just in the West, but throughout the nation, and like roads and other infrastructure issues, you can do some patchwork, you can do some patchwork and you can do some upgrades, but there comes the time at which you need to build new infrastructure.”

Kjellander says Idaho Power predicted extraordinary demand for power when the economy was booming. Now that demand for electricity has dropped with the sluggish economy. Still Kjellander says the summer months can be brutal when everyone runs their air conditioners and irrigates their fields.

Paul Kjellander “There are times when we hit some very hot days that it is a very difficult system to manage under its current scenario today and having more transmission capacity certainly is a plus in order to meet those needs, having rolling blackouts is not a good energy plan.”

There are many arguments, for and against, the Gateway West Project.  Tomorrow morning during Morning Edition you’ll hear reasons why some people don’t like the project.  Find out more about electrical power and see a map of the electric grid across the U-S.