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(Washington, D.C.) –Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, sent a letter to Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) Administrator Steve Wright urging him to carefully examine route locations for the new electric transmission lines in the proposed I-5 Corridor Reinforcement Project to make sure they impact the least number of families in Southwest Washington. Murray stressed the need to take the concerns of local residents into account, and urged Wright to continue engaging with the local communities before making any decisions about the location of new transmission lines.

“As you continue to narrow the viable routes, I strongly urge you to work toward identifying a path forward that impacts the least number of people in Southwest Washington as possible,” Senator Murray said in the letter. “Our state has long enjoyed the benefits of low-cost, reliable electricity from BPA, and I am determined to keep those benefits in place…. I look forward to hearing from you on the steps you will take to determine appropriate routes throughout this process and how you will work to ensure the least impact on the quality of life of individuals and families in Southwest Washington.”

Senator Murray was instrumental in including funding for BPA in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to help improve access to low-cost power for families in Southwest Washington. However, Senator Murray will continue working to ensure that any new transmission lines have as little impact as possible on those who live in residential areas.

The full text of the letter follows:

Dear Administrator Wright:

I write regarding the Bonneville Power Administration’s proposed I-5 Corridor Reinforcement Project, which involves the construction of a new electric transmission line from the Castle Rock area in Cowlitz County, Washington to Troutdale, Oregon.

Southwest Washington has grown considerably in the last decade, which has resulted in increased demand for electricity and related infrastructure.  I understand the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) believes this project is essential to help keep the lights on for the residents of Southwest Washington while at the same time provide much-needed additional capacity for future economic growth.

At the same time, I share the concerns, particularly around route locations, that many of my constituents have raised regarding this project.  I know BPA has made an effort to engage local communities through a public comment process around the Environmental Impact Statement as part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  I appreciate that you have already responded to my earlier request and extended that comment period to ensure that more residents could participate.  I encourage you to continue to take the concerns of affected residents seriously as you move forward with this process.

As you continue to narrow the viable routes, I strongly urge you to work toward identifying a path forward that impacts the least number of people in Southwest Washington as possible.  Our state has long enjoyed the benefits of low-cost, reliable electricity from BPA, and I am determined to keep those benefits in place.   I appreciate the role you and BPA have played as a partner in efforts to keep power rates law in Southwest Washington.

I look forward to hearing from you on the steps you will take to determine appropriate routes throughout this process and how you will work to ensure the least impact on the quality of life of individuals and families in Southwest Washington.