T&D, Transmission

Pacific Power plans substation, transmission line to improve reliability in Oregon

To meet increased usage, improve service reliability and enable further economic development, Pacific Power plans to upgrade its power transmission lines in Josephine and Jackson counties.

The project will also require a new substation to be built in Jackson County, near the intersection of Tresham Lane and Oregon State Highway 234.

As part of this effort, which means an $80 million investment in southern Oregon, Pacific Power has filed for a land use approval for the substation in Jackson County. In coming weeks, the county will solicit public comment on the filing. The county review and decision process is expected to take up to 150 days.

“Our goal is to complete this necessary project, which will enhance reliability for more than 70,000 customers, with as little disruption to as few people as possible,” said Monte Mendenhall, regional business manager for Pacific Power. “Twenty alternative sites were evaluated before we determined the Tresham Lane location as the preferred one. We looked at land use zoning requirements, environmental impacts, visual impacts, operational efficiencies, and as required by the Public Utilities Commission, costs to customers.”

Pacific Power plans to build 18 miles of high capacity (230 kilovolt) transmission line from its existing Grants Pass substation in Josephine County to the new substation. As much as possible, the transmission lines will be built within existing property easements to minimize impacts to the community.

The new transmission line and substation are necessary to improve system reliability and keep up with growth and increased energy usage since the 1990s when the existing lines were built. During certain unlikely events, it is possible that Pacific Power would be unable to serve large numbers of customers in Jackson, Josephine and Del Norte counties.

Pacific Power views the potential loss of service to tens of thousands of customers, however unlikely, as a serious issue that needs to be addressed to ensure our customers can depend upon their electrical service. Further, the company has a legal obligation to ensure that facilities are in place to prevent such an occurrence.

The project will undergo a rigorous approval process from the federal, state and local authorities to ensure that the best possible location has been selected and represents the least impact to the greater community. Specifically, the Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps of Engineers, Oregon Department of State Lands, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Josephine and Jackson County all will review a portion or the entire project for an approval.

The project is currently in the permitting phase which is anticipated to last until mid-July 2017. When that process is complete, design and adjusting easements along a one mile section near the city of Rogue River will begin and extend through the end of 2017. Construction of the substation should begin in 2019 with the work completed and the line placed into service in late 2020.