ColumbiaGrid details 2011 transmission plan progress

ColumbiaGrid on Nov. 28 released its 2012 transmission planning draft update to its 2011 biennial transmission plan.

The planning group identified over $1.2bn of projects in its 2011 plan, which was approved by the ColumbiaGrid board of directors on Feb. 16. The plan looks out over a 10-year planning cycle and identifies transmission additions needed to ensure that parties to the ColumbiaGrid Planning and Expansion Functional Agreement (PEFA) can meet their commitments to serve load and transmission service commitments.

The 2012 draft update detailed the status of ColumbiaGrid’s regional projects, including the delay of Enbridge’s (NYSE:ENB) Montana Alberta Tie Line (MATL) project, which is expected to be complete in 2012 or 2013.

Construction on MATL was halted in June 2011 due to a dispute with the engineering, procurement and construction contractor. Enbridge on its website said it “expects to resume work as soon as practical after developing construction resumption plans and notifying landowners and other stakeholder groups.”

The website notes a mid-2012 completion date for the project. Enbridge did not return a call for comment.

Other regional updates include: 

  • Bonneville Power Administration’s I-5 Corridor project, which is now scheduled for completion in 2016, not 2015. The project is a new 500-kV line running 70 to 90 miles between potential new substations in Troutdale, Ore. and Castle Rock, Wash. 
  • BPA’s John Day-McNary portion of the West of McNary Area reinforcement project in Oregon, which is the largest project to be energized so far in the 10-year plan. The reinforcement project comprises a new 500-kV line running about 79 miles from the McNary substation to the John Day substation, and a new 500 kV line running about 29 miles from the Big Eddy substation to a tap point into the Wautoma-Ostrander 500-kV line.
  • Portland General Electric’s (NYSE:POR) Cascade Crossing project, which will interconnect at a new Grassland substation adjacent to the existing Boardman power plant and a new Cedar Spring substation approximately 36 miles southwest of the Boardman power plant. Cascade Crossing is a 210-mile, 500-kV line from PGE’s Coyote Springs generation plant in the town of Boardman, Ore., west to its Bethel Substation in Salem, Ore., where the line will terminate at a new 500/230-kV transformer bank.
  • BPA’s Colstrip upgrade project, which has been committed. Colstrip is proposed to meet the full capacity of the Bonneville Power Administration’s 2010 network open season requests. According to ColumbiaGrid, a 430-mile series compensated Garrison-Ashe 500-kV line is proposed, with an intermediate station between Taft and Hot Springs.

For a project to be included in ColumbiaGrid’s 10-year plan, it needs to be a committed project that is in the permitting, design, or construction phase, the planning group said, adding that projects in the 10-year plan primarily address issues that occur in the first five years.

ColumbiaGrid noted several developments since the adoption of the 2011 expansion plan, including that ColumbiaGrid staff completed its 2011 system assessment, which highlighted areas of the system that may have deficiencies in meeting reliability standards; the Puget Sound Area Study Team completed an update for the Puget Sound area; the Northern Mid-Columbia Study Team continued its work to resolve the cost allocation and ownership issues related to the preferred plan of service (Rapids-Columbia 230-kV line); and the Cross Cascades Study Team continued its investigation and comparison of alternatives to increase the West of Cascades North path capacity.

The 2012 update includes project updates for Puget Sound, Central Washington, and the Northeastern, Western and Eastern areas.

Additional projects are still being developed to meet the needs in the latter part of the 10-year plan, ColumbiaGrid said.

About Rosy Lum 525 Articles
Rosy Lum, Analyst for TransmissionHub, has been covering the U.S. energy industry since 2007. She began her career in energy journalism at SNL Financial, for which she established a New York news desk. She covered topics ranging from energy finance and renewable policies and incentives, to master limited partnerships and ETFs. Thereafter, she honed her energy and utility focus at the Financial Times' dealReporter, where she covered and broke oil and gas and utility mergers and acquisitions.