The Idaho National Laboratory signed an agreement with the Pacific Northwest Economic Region today to research electrical transmission options and costs in the region, with the research stretching across state and even national borders. “We have a transmission problem in the Pacific Northwest,” said Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, the current president of PNWER, which is a cross-border economic group that includes officials from five northwestern states and three Canadian provinces, including Washington and British Columbia.
John Grossenbacher, INL director, said, “We like hard problems, and we like to apply the talent of the scientists and engineers we have to those problems.” Grossenbacher noted that INL’s research can provide the “knowable facts,” adding, “It doesn’t make the decisions any easier, but at least there’s a sound basis for the decision-making.”
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter praised Eskridge for bringing the group and INL together to focus on energy issues. “We do have energy problems staring us in the face in the future,” Otter said. The initial contract between PNWER and INL is for $30,000 for the transmission study, but Grossenbacher said that’s just the “first task.” Both sides envision additional collaboration in the future on everything from energy generation and its risks and environmental impacts, to transportation, disaster preparedness and grid security.