BPA to resume work on Central Ferry-Lower Monumental project

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is moving forward with work related to the Central Ferry-Lower Monumental 500-kV transmission project, which has been on hold since August 2011 as BPA waited for sufficient demand from its customers to move forward with the project.

“Existing customer need along with indications BPA received of renewed customer need for the project led to the decision,” a BPA spokesperson told TransmissionHub July 19.

The factors leading to that decision include ongoing negotiations between Portland General Electric (PGE; NYSE:POR) and Puget Sound Energy (PSE) for PGE to acquire Phase 2 of PSE’s Lower Snake Wind project in the southeast portion of Washington state.

Located near the town of Pomeroy, Wash., PSE calls the project “the largest wind farm, to date, in Washington.”

The project has 149 wind turbines with a combined nameplate capacity of 343 MW, and its development permits authorize installation of up to 795 wind turbines in Garfield County, Wash., and neighboring Columbia County, Wash. If fully developed, the project’s generating capacity could exceed 1,400 MW, making it one of the largest wind farms in America, according to PSE’s project fact sheet.  

“We expect to begin with some pre-construction activities in anticipation of restarting construction in 2014,” the spokesperson continued.

The preconstruction work that will occupy BPA project crews until the deal between PGE and PSE is finalized will not require significant capital and is necessary for BPA to complete regardless of the construction schedule. Those activities will include additional environmental surveys on access road changes that occurred during landowner negotiations. The agency also identified a potential material yard site and will include it in the environmental surveys. 

Simultaneously with the preconstruction activities, BPA will resume discussions and move forward with landowners along the project route “who have been very patient since we announced our delay,” the spokesperson said. As well, the agency will undertake additional work in preparation for construction activities.

The Central Ferry-Lower Monumental transmission line will extend from BPA’s Central Ferry substation near the Port of Central Ferry in Garfield County, generally west through Garfield, Columbia, and Walla Walla counties in Washington to BPA’s Lower Monumental substation in Walla Walla County.

The line will increase the electrical capacity of BPA’s transmission system in response to requests for transmission service in this area.

If BPA is able to begin construction next spring, the agency would expect to energize the line in December 2015.

While waiting for the demand for transmission capacity to develop resulted in the 1.5-year delay, “it is in line with our goal to build the right facilities in the right place at the right time,” the spokesperson said. “This decision [to resume work on the project] is consistent with that principle.”

This article was updated August 12 to include additional information provided by BPA.