PSE restoring transmission lines downed by eastern Washington fire

Crews from Puget Sound Energy (PSE) are working to restore eight miles of the 230-kV Cascade-Rocky Reach transmission line and nearly 40 structures that were damaged or destroyed by the Taylor Bridge fire near Cle Elum, Wash.

That line runs west from the mid-Columbia River hydro projects to bring power over the Cascade Mountains into the Puget Sound region. PSE expects to have the line restored and reenergized by Sunday, Aug. 26, a PSE spokesperson told TransmissionHub on Aug. 21.

Crews have already restored the 115-kV Intermountain-Pacific transmission line that was also damaged and taken out of service when the fire broke out approximately a week ago.

The two facilities are the major lines that serve PSE’s load in Kittitas County, Wash.

“We’re a winter-peaking utility so there was not a concern about adequacy of supply,” the spokesperson said. “We have enough hydro and gas-fired generation, we get some coal-fired power out of Montana, and with our wind farms we were still able to get power across the Cascades. That wasn’t an issue for us.”

“We were able to immediately redirect our flow into the county from the west,” the spokesperson said. “Normally, we’d be moving power from east to west, across the mountains to the Puget Sound region. We just redirected and brought some bulk power in from the West.”

In addition to rebuilding the lines, crews had to build roads to access the affected areas.  

“Some of these areas are quite rugged and, in some cases, we’ve had to level new roads” to access the work areas, the spokesperson said.

Eight, six-person line crews are among numerous state, county and municipal personnel working to contain the fire and deal with its effects.

PSE is a subsidiary of Puget Energy, which is a subsidiary of Puget Holdings LLC.