The electric utility has identified up to $2B in major projects for which it will use Recovery Act funds and to date has spent $174.4M on these projects, which will enhance transmission and hydro system infrastructure, create hundreds of new jobs, implement energy efficiency and construct fish hatcheries. Details of the projects were released following a recent visit by the Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Energy Daniel Poneman to view progress being made along the new McNary-John Day power line – the first project BPA initiated with funds it received under the Recovery Act.
The projects identified for Recovery Act funding are being developed now or scheduled to be initiated or undergo environmental review in the next two years. The Act increased the amount of money BPA can borrow from the US Treasury. BPA must repay the money with interest.
Transmission enhancements include four major reinforcement projects totalling approximately $1B, including the McNary-John Day line. Combined, these transmission line projects would add more than 220 miles of lines to the Northwest transmission grid. Three of these projects are currently undergoing extensive public and environmental processes. BPA will fund additional work totalling approximately $585 million of upgrades, additions and replacements to its existing transmission system.
The proposed transmission enhancements also include BPA’s recently announced I-5 Corridor Reinforcement Project, which is currently undergoing environmental review. If built, that line would meet growing local and regional energy demands and help bolster BPA transmission system to accommodate energy deliveries, including wind power. If BPA builds all three lines under consideration, in addition to the McNary-John Day project, the lines would allow BPA to provide firm transmission service to about 3881MW of requests for new transmission service, including 3138MW of additional wind integration and green energy.
In addition, the hydro system upgrades will help sustain the backbone of the region’s renewable power supply, keep rates low by avoiding the need to develop other, more expensive resources.
Three Recovery Act-funded fish hatchery projects totalling approximately $50M would increase the abundance and diversity of chinook salmon and steelhead in the Columbia Basin. These projects will undergo National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act review prior to proceeding. This effort will help restore and enhance fish populations and support communities with family wage jobs.
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