Can carving a 100-mile tunnel into the Columbia River’s bed be considered environmentally friendly? According to a group of energy entrepreneurs who suggest burying power wires under the riverbed, the response is a resounding yes. Moreover, according to the developers, the cables might offer “clean” electricity, critical in weaning Cascadia off fossil fuels.
The cables would be inserted into the near The Dalles, Oregon, according to a plan by energy company Sun2o Partners and transmission firm PowerBridge. This electrical on-ramp is located near the Columbia Gorge wind and solar farms in eastern Oregon and Washington. The cables would also cross the Bonneville Electricity Administration’s Big Eddy substation, bringing cheaper solar power from the Southwest, more consistent wind power from Montana and Wyoming, and reliable backup power from British massive hydropower reservoirs.
Even climate-conscious developers can’t make plans involving a natural resource like the Columbia River without creating worry among environmentalists and community members. In addition, tribal nations and distinct cultural interests would be impacted along the Columbia. Sun2o and PowerBridge intend to land their cables in Portland, assisting in the electrification of industries, buildings, and cars while lowering the use of coal and gas-fired power plants. Cascade Renewable Transmission is the project’s name.
Anticipating environmental concerns, the developers claim they will cause minor damage to the River by using high-pressure pumps to lay underwater cables quickly and cleanly. A “hydroplow” dragged down the riverbed would fire water jets down, churning open an 18-inch-wide trench in the sediment.They contend that the environmental consequences would be minor and outweighed by ecological benefits such as reduced pollution from natural gas, petroleum fuels, and coal. This includes carbon dioxide and methane emissions, two greenhouse gases that fuel Cascadia’s wildfires and heatwaves, and changing the temperature and timing of the Columbia.