For Idaho Power, B2H is needed to cost-effectively meet projected customer energy demands. B2H funding partners Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and PacifiCorp each have their own need for the project based on customer loads in the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West. Idaho Power’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which is filed with the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC), identifies the lowest cost and lowest risk plan for meeting projected customer demand. B2H has been identified in the 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019 IRPs as the least-cost and least risk option to serve Idaho Power’s projected customer demand. The project recently received acknowledgement for construction activities from the Oregon PUC in May of 2018 as part of the 2017 IRP filing.
The project supports customer needs for reliable, low-cost electricity across the western U.S. The project will provide a connection from the Mid-Columbia (“Mid-C”) energy trading hub, a common energy trading point, near Boardman to a location southwest of Boise, Idaho. Specifically, this allows the project to connect Idaho Power, BPA and PacifiCorp customers across eight western states.
B2H takes advantage of regional customer demand diversity and is alternative to building traditional supply-side resources. In the case of B2H, generation from the Pacific Northwest can be used to offset summer peak demands in Eastern Oregon and the Intermountain West region. Conversely, generation from Idaho and the Intermountain West region can offset winter peak loads in the Pacific Northwest.
All options for meeting customer demand through additional utility-scale and distributed generation, transmission and demand-reduction are considered through Idaho Power’s IRP process. B2H has consistently proven to be the most cost-effective solution to meeting projected demands.
The Pacific Northwest-Idaho transmission path consists of five high-voltage transmission lines. The west-to-east capacity on the transmission path is fully allocated and is capacity-limited during summer months due to existing service obligations.
B2H will help facilitate Idaho Power’s transition away from coal-fired resources. Idaho Power is planning to retire much of its coal-fired generation resources by 2032, including our portion of the Boardman coal-fired plant. In its 2019 IRP, Idaho Power identified the need for an additional resource in 2026, even with the rapid growth in localized generation sources like rooftop solar. Utility-scale renewable resources require a strong electrical grid to distribute the energy from where it is produced to where it is consumed. The grid is also essential to supply electricity when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing. With B2H, Idaho, Oregon and the Pacific Northwest will gain flexibility to integrate renewable resources, such as wind and solar, and more efficiently implement advanced market tools, such as the Energy Imbalance Market (EIM).
The project will result in numerous positive economic impacts for the region including:
- $1.0 to $1.2 billion in private investment on infrastructure
- 500 construction jobs
- Increased local tax base from project-specific property tax dollars
- Increased local spending during construction
- Increased opportunities for economic development and new energy resources