Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

We're encouraged by the latest news from the sluggish process that is Idaho Power Company's Boardman-to-Hemingway project.

The latest map, to be specific.

The newest possible route for the Boise company's 500-kilovolt transmission line looks as though it addresses the most significant of the local concerns about the line's effects.

Known as the Timber Canyon alternative, this route would site the power line through eastern and northern Baker County.

Most importantly, this alternative keeps the line out of the viewsheds of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center and of Baker Valley.

Idaho Power's preferred route, by contrast, has the line running about a mile east of the Interpretive Center.

Holly Orr, who works for the BLM's Vale District, said the agency designed the Timber Canyon alternative to address public concerns about Idaho Power's preferred route, including the latter's proximity to the Interpretive Center and the large amounts of private land it would pass through.

Nancy Peyron of Baker City, who helped form the group Move Idaho Power, which opposes the company's preferred route, called the unveiling of the Timber Canyon alternative "exciting."

But as Peyron pointed out, that route is only a proposal.

It's longer than Idaho Power's preferred route, and at an estimated cost of $2 million per mile, adding distance is no trifling matter.

In addition, we'd like to see more detailed maps.

As Peyron also noted, the Timber Canyon alternative is no bargain if it merely transfers the burden from one part of the county to another group of landowners.

That said, Timber Canyon appears to have the potential to be the best of the many potential paths we've seen for the Boardman-to-Hemingway power line. The public will get a chance to comment on the proposal when the BLM unveils a draft EIS, probably around February 2013.