WAPA details upcoming transmission work in ‘2017 State of the Assets’

The Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) on Feb. 28 published its “2017 State of the Assets,” in which it noted, for instance, that this year, it will focus on a few projects that present the best value for its Desert Southwest (DSW) customers, including the Tucson substation project.

That project involves building a new 230-kV substation yard with control building that will replace the existing 115-kV yard to prepare for future capacity needs, WAPA said in its document.

As noted on WAPA’s website, the Tucson substation is located in Tucson, Pima County, Ariz., on WAPA fee-owned lands in Township 13 South, Range 13 East, Section 35 (Gila and Salt River Baseline and Meridian).

As noted in the document – which WAPA said is forward-looking and provides the status of each region, for instance – other projects that WAPA will focus on this year in the DSW region include the:

  • ED2-to-Saguaro No. 2 Transmission Line upgrade, which involves crews replacing 37 miles of wood poles with steel monopoles to current 115-kV standards, strengthening the local grid infrastructure. According to WAPA’s website, the project is located on the east side of Interstate 10 near Eloy, Pinal County, Ariz., and starts at WAPA’s Electrical District 2 (ED2) substation, located on the east side of Eleven Mile Corner Road, a half mile south of State Route 287, and ends at the Saguaro substation, located next to Arizona Public Service’s Saguaro Steam Plant, situated alongside Interstate 10, one mile south of Exit 226 (Red Rock)
  • Liberty Series Capacitor Bank rebuild, which involves building a new 345-kV capacitor bank to replace the existing equipment that is more than 45 years old
  • Gila-to-Welton Mohawk Transmission Line Interstate 8 crossing and rebuild, which involves crews rebuilding the line that crosses Interstate 8 to replace 2.8 miles of aged wooden structures with steel monopoles near Telegraph Pass

WAPA also said that in 2017, its staff and Southline LLC will continue to work together on the Southline Project, which consists of about 240 miles of new 345-kV, double-circuit transmission lines between the existing substations in Afton, N.M., and Apache, Ariz.; as well as a series of upgrades to about 120 miles of WAPA’s existing Parker-Davis Project transmission lines. The proposed upgrades would replace the single-circuit 115-kV with double-circuit 230-kV, between Arizona’s Apache and Saguaro substations, WAPA noted, adding that the upgrades to the Parker-Davis Project facilities would be paid for by Southline, with the potential effect of avoiding about $120m from WAPA’s 10-year capital planning and ultimately from the Parker-Davis Project rates.

WAPA said that it is continuing to gather customer feedback and is considering whether participation in the project is in its best interest.

Discussing the Rocky Mountain (RM) region, WAPA said that RM staff in 2017 will continue to evolve its operations, products and services. WAPA, through participation in the Mountain West Transmission Group, is analyzing the impacts, costs and benefits of participating in an RTO, for itself and its customers.

WAPA added that the group of 10 utility neighbors is in discussions with the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) as the next step in exploring potential membership with a particular RTO. In the event that those discussions are unsuccessful, the participants may pursue similar discussions with either the Midcontinent ISO (MISO), PJM Interconnection, or both, WAPA said.

“The group anticipates making a decision in mid-2017, with the goal of implementing any changes in early 2019,” WAPA said.

The Colorado River Storage Project Management Center will also continue to work with the Mountain West Transmission Group to determine potential benefits of RTO membership.

WAPA further noted that last year, it selected a preferred route for upgrading two 70-plus-year-old transmission lines between Estes Park and Loveland, Colo. The final environmental review and record of decision for the project are anticipated this year, WAPA said.

WAPA further noted that RM’s 10-year capital planning effort will address certain major projects within the next year to ensure asset management health, including the:

  • Rebuild of the Granby Pumping Plant-to-Windy Gap transmission line – In Grand Lake, Colo., RM staff will replace 12 miles of existing 69-kV line with a double circuit, 138-kV and 69-kV line from the Farr Pumping Plant-to-Windy Gap Substation with the support of Loveland Area Projects, or LAP, customers. Tri-State, as a joint participant of the project, is providing customer funding. The project also includes an addition to the Granby Pumping Plant substation for the 138-kV line. Those additions will continue to provide reliable power to the local area after failure of the aging Adams tunnel cable
  • Big George-to-North Cody Transmission project – RM will install a new 115-kV line on existing poles between Big George and Cody, Wyo. The project also involves building a new 115-kV yard at the North Cody substation to support the new circuit. Those additions will provide voltage support in the Cody area

WAPA also noted that Sierra Nevada (SN) markets hydroelectric power generated from the Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project (CVP) to 104 power customers in California.

In 2017, SN will continue the environmental review of the Colusa-Sutter Transmission Project (CoSu), which is funded by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), and is needed for local reliability, as well as to increase SMUD’s ability to import power from the Pacific Northwest. The SN team anticipates issuing a draft environmental impact statement for the project in July 2019.

According to the project’s website, the project is a proposed 500-kV transmission line that would connect the California-Oregon Transmission Project on the west side of the Sacramento Valley in Colusa or Yolo counties, to WAPA’s and SMUD’s existing substations in Sutter or Sacramento counties. The project could also include potential modifications to SMUD’s existing Elverta substation, the website noted.

WAPA said in its document that the SN staff will also continue design and engineering work this year for the San Luis Transmission Project, which is needed to provide an economic benefit on behalf of Reclamation’s San Luis Unit.

According to the project’s website, the project comprises 95 miles of new transmission lines within easements ranging from 125 feet to 250 feet wide through Alameda, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced counties, along the foothills of the Diablo Range in the western San Joaquin Valley in California.

WAPA noted that the Upper Great Plains Integrated System in 2015 – in partnership with customers – joined SPP, making WAPA the first power marketing administration to fully join an RTO.

Discussing the Upper Great Plains region, WAPA said that a few projects highlighted in the 10-year capital planning effort that will be addressed this year include the:

  • Groton South substation, which is a new 115-kV substation near Groton, S.D., to support East River Electric Cooperative’s new 115-kV transmission line, which is needed to provide voltage support to the area. The new substation will alleviate congestion and maintenance issues
  • Mingusville substation, which is a new 230-kV substation in Montana to sectionalize the Dawson County-Medora-Belfield transmission line to provide an interconnection for Upper Missouri Generation and Transmission Electric Cooperative’s member Goldenwest Electric Cooperative. The interconnection will serve two new oil pumping stations associated with the Baaken pipeline, along with other unplanned load growth related to oil activity in the area
  • Brookings substation, which involves WAPA reconfiguring the existing substation to a breaker and a half configuration in order to increase reliability for local customers, including the city of Brookings, S.D., South Dakota State University, and several manufacturing facilities in the area

Among other things, WAPA said that the Transmission Asset Management Program in 2017 will create value and enhance data-driven decisions by combining staff’s extensive field knowledge with insights gained from significant and actionable data, as well as further integrating sustainable funding and enterprise risk management across the organization. WAPA said that it is expanding its analytics this year to include analysis of transmission line segments to improve condition assessment of the assets.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3231 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.