David Madore, Doug Johnson and Mark Korsness

David Madore talks with Doug Johnson and Mark Korsness from the Bonneville Power Administration

Listen to an audio podcast of this interview here:


The Bonneville Power Administration is in the planning process for the potential construction of a new electrical transmission line in Southwest Washington. As part of that planning process, the BPA expects to release a draft environmental impact statement later this year, so Doug Johnson and Mark Korsness from BPA stopped by COUV.COM to talk about the planning process in the latest episode of Clark County Today.

Despite dramatic growth in the area, the planning underway by BPA does not mean a new transmission line is imminent, but the BPA representatives said a major transmission project in this area hasn’t been completed since the late 1960s. The planning process is being done with the expectation that a new line will be needed in the not too distant future.

“We’ve worked very hard over the last 40 years to avoid building new transmission lines and to work the existing system,” Johnson said.

The proposed project would increase the capacity of energy to travel between a substation near Castle Rock and a substation near Troutdale, running through the Southwest Washington region. Korsness and Johnson said the project would fix capacity issues and connect existing transmission lines by filling in gaps to enforce the Portland/Vancouver electrical grid.

Map that outlines proposed transmission line routes

But that causes concern among some residents who worry tower construction, as part of the transmission lines, could bring landscape eyesores and that the line itself could bring health risks in the form of electromagnetic fields.

Although the representatives said data about magnetic field health risks has been inconclusive, they said these are the concerns they want to hear from the public.

“We’re not here to tell people how to think; we’re here to provide all of the information we can,” Korsness said.

The project currently has a map with proposed transmission line routes. The goal now is to find the preferred route out of the options outlined on the map. The representatives said the current route options have been studied for years with regard to displacing as few people as possible while also considering noise, property value, clearing of trees and magnetic fields.

As the plan stands, the representatives said it is well within the scope to make small route adjustments to minimize impacts on people. They said citizens will be able to look at the environmental impact plan to see specific locations where towers could be constructed and provide feedback based on those plans.

Korsness and Johnson said this process is being worked through so that plans are ready if and when it’s decided that the electrical transmission line should be built.

To download a map of the proposed transmission line routes, click here.