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Northwestern Transmission Line to Carry 575 Megawatts of Wind Power

August 12, 2009

DOE announced on Monday that construction is underway for the McNary-John Day transmission project in Oregon and Washington, funded by $343 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The project, part of the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) transmission system, is expected to deliver more than 575 megawatts (MW) of wind-generated power across the West by early 2012. The 79-mile McNary-John Day line will run from the McNary Substation in Oregon, across the Columbia River into Washington, and back into Oregon, where it will end at the John Day Substation. It is one of four proposed transmission lines that together would add 225 miles of high-voltage power transmission to the Pacific Northwest, delivering about 2,800 MW of renewable energy to the region. See the DOE press release and the BPA fact sheet on the proposed projects (PDF 109 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

The Pacific Northwest expansion is only part of a nationwide push for upgrades to the grid. Among the other transmission projects being considered for development is the "Green Power Express," announced earlier this year by ITC Holdings Corp., and which is designed as a network of transmission lines that would carry up to 12,000 MW of wind power from the Upper Great Plains to the Midwestern cities. Plans envision some 3,000 miles of 765-kilovolt transmission lines at a cost of $10-12 billion, with a target date of 2020 for the power to flow. In April, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved a number of investment rate incentives that will help the project go forward. See ITC's Green Power Express Web site and the FERC press release.

Also in the works are two Kansas and Oklahoma projects, Tallgrass and Prairie Wind, that would string a combined 400 miles of 765-kilovolt transmission lines across the two states by 2013, pending permitting and cost allocation approvals. Work on Tallgrass is scheduled to begin this year. And Great Basin Transmission, LLC is developing the Southwest Intertie Project (SWIP), a 500-kilovolt transmission line stretching 500 miles between Idaho and southern Nevada. The SWIP is moving ahead, and backers say the southern portion of the line could be in service as early as 2010, with the northern stretch completed a year later. A complimentary project, the Overland Intertie, is a 560-mile transmission link planned to run between southern Idaho and eastern Wyoming. The Overland Intertie, being developed by a Great Basin affiliate, would connect to SWIP.

Source: EERE Network News, Aug. 12, 2009