BPA study identifies power line route in the Hanford, Washington area

Richland, Wash., Feb. 11, 2002 – The Bonneville Power Administration has tentatively chosen a preferred route for a new 500-kilovolt transmission line through central Washington.

The proposed 63-mile line would link BPA’s Schultz Substation, near Ellensburg, to a new substation near the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford Reservation. The project is called the Schultz-Hanford Area 500-kV Transmission Line Project.

The preferred route is identified in a draft environmental impact statement that BPA released today for public comment. Three public meetings will be held to discuss the draft environmental statement and gather comments.

“This project will increase transfer capability by 300-400 megawatts in a highly congested part of the region’s transmission grid north of Hanford,” project manger Lou Driessen said. “It will also help move power along the Northwest-Southwest Intertie during spring and summer months when there are high power flows from Canada coupled with high generation output on the upper Columbia River.”

According to Driessen, a major concern is potential outages affecting transmission lines in this area. “At times two of our existing lines west of Hanford Substation on the Hanford Reservation have been knocked out by range fires,” Driessen said. “The preferred route will provide another path for power and improve the reliability of our system.”

Driessen commented that this line would also help BPA meet fish obligations by enabling more power to move from generators east of the Cascades to western population centers when generation is sacrificed at dams to assist natural migration of juvenile salmon.

The preferred route was identified as “alternative 2” in early studies. According to Driessen this alternative follows existing transmission rights-of-way. It also passes through the U.S. Army’s Yakima Training Center and through some irrigated farmlands. “It has the least potential impact on sensitive cultural sites,” Driessen said.

“The selection of a preferred alternative is not a final decision,” Driessen said. “BPA will make a final decision on an alternative after issuing the final environmental impact statement. Before that, we want to hear what people have to say about our report and its findings.”

Based on the environmental studies, additional technical analysis and public input, BPA’s Administrator will decide how to proceed on the project. If BPA decides to build, the new line could be operating by late 2004.

Copies of the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) and its executive summary are available by contacting 1-800-622-4520. The document and other project information also are posted on BPA’s web site at


To comment on the DEIS, call toll-free 1-800-622-4519 or e-mail comment@bpa.gov. Comments also can be mailed to Bonneville Power Administration, Communications-KC, P.O. Box 12999, Portland, OR 97212.

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