BPA to Build $246M Transmission Line
Portland Business Journal, February 19, 2009
Thanks to the new federal stimulus package, the Bonneville Power Administration announced plans Thursday to build a $246 million electric transmission line, a project that will create about 700 jobs and give a much-needed boost to the region's ability to transport power.
The plan was pushed forward thanks to an additional $3.25 billion in borrowing authority from the U.S Treasury that was included as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed this week by President Barack Obama. In a news release, the BPA said the newly-acquired access to capital removed "a major uncertainty," enabling the agency to proceed with the project.
Once complete in 2012, the new line will allow the federal BPA to provide transmission service to more than 870 megawatts of energy — including service to more than 700 megawatts of wind power. Work will begin this spring.
"I am proud that BPA has aggressively moved to put into place a long-term infrastructure investment that will benefit the Pacific Northwest and expand our access to renewable energy sources. This project is a fine example of infrastructure spending that provides the most bang for the buck," said U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, (D-Ore.), who, along with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), worked to include the additional BPA borrowing authority into the stimulus bill.
The line will run from BPA's McNary Substation in Umatilla, cross the Columbia River and run parallel with the waterway for 75 miles, mostly within existing rights-of-way. It will then cross the Columbia River back into Oregon and end at BPA's John Day Substation.
The McNary-John Day line is one of four high-voltage transmissions lines proposed by the BPA and the first to complete an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. The other three projects will begin their reviews in the near future, BPA said.
In total, the four transmission projects will add more than 225 miles of lines to the Northwest grid and improve reliability. They will provide transmission service to about 3,700 megawatts of long-term transmission requests received by the agency, including 2,700 megawatts of renewable energy.
BPA already operates 15,000 miles of transmission lines across Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana and markets more than a third of the electricity consumed in the Pacific Northwest.
"Bonneville's announcement shows that there really are turbine-ready, green energy projects that will put people to work here in the Northwest. Bonneville is moving at warp speed to take full advantage of the new authority in the economic recovery bill," U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in a statement.
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