Construction of BPA’s Central Ferry-Lower Monumental Transmission Line begins in May

The Bonneville Power Administration will begin construction of the Central Ferry-Lower Monumental Transmission Line Project in May. The new line is expected to carry over 800 additional megawatts of renewable wind energy, enough to power about half a million Northwest homes when the wind is blowing. The 38-mile, 500-kilovolt line in Washington will connect the new Central Ferry Substation in Garfield County to the existing Lower Monumental Substation in Walla Walla County. It is expected to be energized in December 2015. “Building the right facilities in the right place at the right time is a key principle of our long-term transmission services planning process,” said Richard Shaheen, BPA vice president for Engineering and Technical Services. “Specifically, this project will add critical transmission grid capacity, support new transmission requests from generators in the Snake River area and be a welcome boost to local and regional economies.” For more than 75 years, BPA has been the major developer of energy infrastructure in the Pacific Northwest. Electric utilities and electric power consumers depend on BPA to maintain reliable transmission service at low rates and meet growing demands for electricity. Central Ferry-Lower Monumental Transmission Line ProjectOver the past several years, numerous power generation projects, including large wind projects, have requested interconnection with the BPA system in the Snake River area. After studying the transmission system and identifying where capacity is available, BPA determined that there is not enough available transmission capacity to accommodate the requests. Building the Central Ferry-Lower Monumental project will allow BPA to meet the requests for transmission and allow additional power to flow between areas east of the Cascade Mountains to heavily populated areas in the west. In August 2011, the Central Ferry-Lower Monumental Transmission Line Project was put on hold because of uncertainties regarding the need for the new line. However, in August 2013, BPA notified customers, landowners and stakeholders that it was moving forward with construction of the line. Existing customer need coupled with an agreement for Portland General Electric to acquire Phase 2 of Puget Sound Energy’s Lower Snake River Wind Project, which PGE renamed the Tucannon River Wind Farm, required construction activities to begin this spring. The Tucannon River Wind Farm is a key infrastructure investment that supports PGE’s balanced energy portfolio. Tucannon River will help PGE satisfy Oregon’s renewable energy standard, which requires the utility to supply 15 percent of the electricity its customers use from renewable resources by 2015 and 25 percent by 2025. In early 2011, BPA completed an environmental impact statement and preliminary engineering design for the project. BPA issued a record of decision to build the line in March 2011. Since then, BPA has conducted additional environmental review of some access road modifications and a material yard. The contractor hired to build the new line is MYR Group, a leading specialty contractor serving the electrical infrastructure market throughout the United States. It has the experience and expertise to complete electrical installations of any type and size. MYR Group’s power line capabilities include transmission, overhead and underground distribution and substation projects. BPA also will be holding two “Meet the Builder” open-houses in late April so the public can learn more about the construction process and schedule, speak with representatives of the MYR Group and meet the BPA project team.  To learn more about the project, go to www.bpa.gov/goto/centralferrylomo.

BPA offering $20,000 in science and energy education grants

Portland, Ore. – The Bonneville Power Administration is offering $20,000 in science and energy education grants to nonprofit organizations, schools and others in support of work to educate

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Public input sought on potential habitat restoration project near Astoria

Portland, Ore. – The Bonneville Power Administration is seeking public input and comment on potential environmental impacts from a proposed project to restore a tidal marsh in Clatsop County

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Grays Harbor PUD adopts rate increase, will revisit second increase in July

ABERDEEN, Wash. - Rates are on the rise at the Grays Harbor PUD, General Manager Dave Ward tells us the increasing cost of power from the Bonneville Power Administration is just one factor "You know we have aging infrastructure, we've got to continue to put our dollars back into our system. We have some retirements coming up too, so we've got to start planning for a little bit of succession planning. So we've put some focus on that, back to the basics of providing good service.
Ward said the utility will revisit a possible second rate increase in the coming summer. "We've elected to split that, see how we do through the winter with the wholesale power market. See other ways we could reduce our costs, and try to reduce as much as we can come July.
For the average residential customer, the 3.75% increase will add about $4.11 to their monthly bill, effective January first.
As we reported earlier this month, the PUD is facing almost $2 million in increased power costs this coming year, mostly due to the Bonneville Power Administration, from whom the District purchases most of their power, raising their transmission rates by 11% and their power rates by 9% this past October. The utility’s capital budget also calls for $10 million in expenditures deemed necessary to replace aging electrical equipment and to maintain the system.

Grays Harbor PUD eyes rate increase for 2014

ABERDEEN, Wash. - The Grays Harbor PUD is proposing a rate increase of 3.75%, which would take effect on January 1, 2014. A proposal will be presented to the Commissioners at their next meeting December 16, 2013 as part of the 2014 budget. For the average residential customer, it will add about $4.11 to their monthly bill.

The PUD is facing almost $2 million in increased power costs this coming year, mostly due to the Bonneville Power Administration, from whom the District purchases most of their power, raising their transmission rates by 11% and their power rates by 9% this past October. The utility’s capital budget also calls for $10 million in expenditures deemed necessary to replace aging electrical equipment and to maintain the system.

General Manager Dave Ward is working with staff to lower costs and postpone projects into future budget years when possible. “The PUD staff has worked hard to reduce our budget as a means to mitigate the impacts felt from external costs. We will continue to look for ways to reduce expenses while not negatively impacting our ability to provide safe and reliable service,” Ward said.

Prior to July 2014, the PUD will evaluate the need for an additional rate adjustment of up to 1.75%.

BPA adopts higher wholesale power and transmission rates

The Bonneville Power Administration today adopted a 9 percent average wholesale power rate increase and an 11 percent average transmission rate increase. The transmission rate increase is the first in six years. The new rates support needed improvements to ensure the region’s federal hydropower and transmission systems can continue to reliably deliver carbon-free, affordable power to Northwest homes and businesses. The new rates take effect Oct. 1, 2013.      
“We recognize that rate increases are very challenging for customers, especially for those still in the throes of a slow economy,” said BPA Acting Administrator Elliot Mainzer. “But the increases are necessary so that we can preserve the long-term value of carbon-free federal generation and support the reliability of the high-voltage transmission lines that serve Northwest public utilities.”  

For Bonneville’s utility power customers, the wholesale rate increase will be an average of 9 percent higher than current rates. The power rate increase stems from higher costs to operate and maintain the federal hydroelectric system, higher costs to fund existing long-term agreements for the fish and wildlife mitigation program and reduced revenues from surplus power sales due to low market prices. 

Grays Harbor PUD Commisioners Say No To Proposed Settlement

ABERDEEN, Wash. - The Grays Harbor PUD Commissioners yesterday adopted a resolution rejecting a proposed settlement from the Bonneville Power Administration that sought to not only settle litigation surrounding the Residential Exchange Program, but to lock rate payers into a set fee structure for the next 17 years. Commissioner Tom Casey told the few that attended last night's meeting "Without binding arbitration, in effect, BPA doesn't have to follow any of their contracts, unless you want to sue them." The BPA proposal would require 91% of their Preferred customers to agree, with a deadline of April 15th, the commissioners last night said they don't think enough Public Utilities will sign the agreement.

Grays Harbor PUD Seeks Input on Possible Settlement

ABERDEEN, Wash. - A meeting next month will discuss a possible settlement with the Bonneville Power Administration regarding the Residential Exchange Program. Liz Anderson with the Grays Harbor PUD tells us following a court victory, over BPS rates in 2001, for consumer-owned utilities including Grays Harbor PUD the litigation is continuing over the amount due and how the exchange payments are calculated going forward.  In an effort to settle the litigation, some representatives of investor-owned utilities and consumer-owned utilities developed a “Settlement” that is currently under consideration by consumer-owned utilities throughout the region.

The Settlement would obligate customers of consumer-owned utilities to pay fixed amounts for the Residential Exchange for 17 years, ranging from $182 million (total for public power) in the first year to over $286 million in 2028. The Grays Harbor PUD Board of Commissioners is reviewing the Settlement terms and considering the best option for ratepayers. The forum Thursday, April 7, 2011 from 6pm-8pm will provide an opportunity for a dialogue with ratepayers to discuss the proposal and Grays Harbor’s position.