BPA seeking public comment on Grand Coulee-Creston line rebuild

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is seeking public comment on the draft environmental assessment (EA) for the proposed 28-mile Grand Coulee-Creston #1 transmission line rebuild project in the state of Washington and will hold two public meetings in January as part of its outreach effort.

“Feedback on the draft environmental assessment is considered before a final decision is made on whether or not to proceed with the project,” Erich Orth, BPA project manager, said in a Dec. 26 statement announcing the outreach efforts.

Following the procedures outlined in the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), BPA prepared the 230-page draft EA that describes the project and why it is needed, discusses the environmental impacts it would create, and lists the mitigation measures that would lessen or eliminate those impacts, a BPA spokesperson told TransmissionHub.

The 115-kV wood-pole line between the cities of Coulee Dam and Creston was built in 1941 and 72 years of exposure to the elements has taken its toll. Although routine maintenance has been performed on the line, all wood poles and wires must be replaced due to rot and deterioration.

Rebuilding the line would help maintain reliable electrical service and avoid risks to the safety of the public and maintenance crews, BPA said in its EA.

“New structures and associated equipment would provide more reliability during routing operation and severe weather,” BPA said, while continuing on-going maintenance on the existing “deteriorated and physically worn structures and associated equipment would pose a greater risk for outages and unreliable service.”

The proposed project would include replacing all wood-pole structures including poles, cross arms, cross braces, guys, anchors and insulator assemblies; conductor including ground wire and fiber communications; improving existing access roads and developing temporary access roads. BPA intends to keep the same structure locations and similar pole heights as the existing line when the line is rebuilt.

Public meetings will be held Jan. 7 in Coulee Dam and Jan. 8 in Wilbur, Wash., from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in both locations. Community members can ask questions, voice concerns and share local knowledge about the potential impacts of the draft EA.

Interested parties can also comment on the proposed project and its impacts via BPA’s web site or U.S. Mail. Comments should be submitted by Feb. 3, 2014.

BPA will consider all comments submitted during the comment period and provide responses to substantial comments in the final EA.  If the agency decides to implement the proposed project, the final EA and a finding of no significant impacts (FONSI) would likely be available in May 2014, with construction commencing in the spring of 2015, the agency said.