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BPA plans major transmission project; Project could create as many as 700 jobs

When the government's $787 billion economic stimulus package became law last month, the Bonneville Power Administration was one of the many beneficiaries. The federal utility wasted no time making use of its share, rolling out plans for a major transmission project ...The project now aims to provide service for 873 megawatts of energy - about 700 megawatts of that from wind power. That wouldn't have been the case seven years ago, he said.

When the government's $787 billion economic stimulus package became law last month, the Bonneville Power Administration was one of the many beneficiaries.

The federal utility wasted no time making use of its share, rolling out plans for a major transmission project along the Columbia River that BPA says could create as many as 700 jobs at its peak.

The project, estimated to cost about $246 million, will run between BPA's McNary Substation in Umatilla and extend to the John Day Substation.

Until late last year, the plan largely sat on the shelf after its inception in 2002. But an extra $3.25 billion in borrowing power authorized by the stimulus helped it get off the ground.

The transmission line now takes a slightly different focus than its original form, driven mostly by increasing demand in wind energy, said BPA spokesperson Doug Johnson. The project now aims to provide service for 873 megawatts of energy - about 700 megawatts of that from wind power. That wouldn't have been the case seven years ago, he said.

"You're talking about quite a bit of green energy being facilitated through the transmission network to the folks who really want it,"... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

When the government's $787 billion economic stimulus package became law last month, the Bonneville Power Administration was one of the many beneficiaries.

The federal utility wasted no time making use of its share, rolling out plans for a major transmission project along the Columbia River that BPA says could create as many as 700 jobs at its peak.

The project, estimated to cost about $246 million, will run between BPA's McNary Substation in Umatilla and extend to the John Day Substation.

Until late last year, the plan largely sat on the shelf after its inception in 2002. But an extra $3.25 billion in borrowing power authorized by the stimulus helped it get off the ground.

The transmission line now takes a slightly different focus than its original form, driven mostly by increasing demand in wind energy, said BPA spokesperson Doug Johnson. The project now aims to provide service for 873 megawatts of energy - about 700 megawatts of that from wind power. That wouldn't have been the case seven years ago, he said.

"You're talking about quite a bit of green energy being facilitated through the transmission network to the folks who really want it," Johnson said.

The transmission line will add to BPA's existing grid. It basically gives the utility an increased capacity to facilitate and deliver energy to various utilities in the area. BPA hopes to have the new line up and running by the end of 2012. Construction is slated to begin this spring.

One of the newest wind farms on the Columbia River corridor is Rattlesnake Road Wind Farm near Arlington, which began operation under Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy late last year.

Hilary Foote, a senior project manager with Horizon, said the transmission line won't affect the Rattlesnake Road farm because its energy is already routed through existing systems. The project is likely to impact new wind farms that come online after 2012, but could boost wind development in Eastern Oregon and Washington, she added.

Johnson said most of the jobs created will relate to heavy construction - installing heavy steel towers, building access roads and "that kind of stuff." He said the cost might push BPA's rates up about 2.2 percent annually over the next 20 years, but that's not accounting for other factors that could push them up or down during that time. The transmission plan aims to cause the least rate impact to utilities - and by extension paying customers - for the most benefit.

Two Northwest politicians helped include the BPA handout in the stimulus bill, according to a BPA release: U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wa., and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.

DeFazio praised the new project in his own released statement.

"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," he said. "This project is a fine example of infrastructure spending that provides the most bang for the buck."


Source: http://www.eastoregonian.in...

MAR 5 2009
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