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Wood River Valley Could Finally Get Second Transmission Line

Tom Banse

Just one electrical transmission line serves parts of the Wood River Valley. After years of debate, the proposal to build a second line as a backup is finally before the Idaho Public Utilities Commission.

Idaho Power says the north part of the Wood River Valley is susceptible to a power outage because just one transmission line services some 9,000 customers. The line runs from Hailey up to a substation east of Ketchum. According to the power company, accessing the line to perform maintenance or repairs during the winter could be problematic and lead to long outages.

The Idaho Mountain Express reports the single line has been reliable, only experiencing a little more than three hours of unplanned outages since 1980. Ketchum Mayor Nina Jonas, some area residents and the Sierra Club want more research to be done on the feasibility of alternative power sources like microgrids or battery storage.

The proposed transmission line before the PUC for consideration would run underground and is estimated to cost around $30 million. Money from all Idaho Power customers would go toward building it. If an above-ground option won out, local customers would have to foot the bill for putting it underground in Ketchum and out to the substation.

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