BPA Could Borrow More
by Annette Cary
The national economic recovery bill working its way through Congress includes $3.25 billion in additional borrowing authority for the Bonneville Power Administration, which is considering a new transmission line through southern Benton County.
The McNary-John Day Transmission Line Project has the best potential to be "shovel ready" this year among transmission line projects being considered by the agency, said BPA spokesman Scott Simms.
"This is the type of investment with short and long-term economic benefits that will help get workers back on the job and our economy back on track," Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in a statement Tuesday.
An environmental study was done for the proposed 79-mile, high-voltage transmission line in 2002 before the project was put on hold because of changing energy market conditions.
Requests by power generators for use of the transmission system in Southeast Washington and Northeast Oregon led BPA to consider reviving the plan. It expects to complete a supplemental environmental study on the project in the next few weeks.
The line would bring more wind power online along with being used for power from other sources.
The 500-kilovolt transmission line would have a capacity of 1,250 megawatts -- enough to serve the city of Seattle. It was projected to cost $167 million in 2002, but that likely has increased.
"Limited capital is our biggest roadblock to accomplishing infrastructure investments that support a transition to a green economy," said Steve Wright, BPA administrator, in a statement Tuesday.
Money included in both the House and Senate versions of the economic recovery bill would allow BPA to borrow more money from the U.S. Treasury.
The increased borrowing authority would help BPA obtain money for projects needed to allow new renewable resources to come online, said Murray's staff.
"This investment will help give BPA the resources needed to create family-wage jobs and bring new energy sources online across the Northwest," Murray said in a statement.
It would allow 4,700 megawatts of wind energy to come online and create 20,000 green jobs, including high-wage construction jobs, her staff said.
The McNary-John Day Transmission Line Project would be built next to existing lines in Oregon and Washington between BPA's McNary and John Day substations.
The line would start at BPA's McNary Substation in Oregon and cross the Columbia River with the existing lines just north of the substation into Washington.
The line would run parallel to the Columbia River for 75 miles within existing right-of-way, then cross the Columbia River back into Oregon and end at BPA's John Day Substation.
If BPA proceeds with the project, construction could begin as early as this summer and the line could be completed in 2012.
Senate Approves BPA Borrowing Increase by $700 Million by CBB Staff, Columbia Basin Bulletin, 1/24/3
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