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The Bonneville Power Administration began the process of preparing an environmental assessment for an equipment upgrade
Kurt Lynam, Public Affairs Specialist for BPA, goes over a map with local landowner, Tom Decker.
October 11, 2012
Local landowners came away with lots of information and answers to their questions Wednesday evening at a public open house held by Bonneville Power Administration.
The BPA is proposing a project that would replace aging equipment at their Celilo converter station near The Dalles, and upgrade equipment on the Celilo-Sylmar 500-kilovolt transmission line. The project is also referred to as the Pacific Direct Current Intertie (PDCI). The high voltage electric transmission facility was built in the 1970s, and the outdated equipment and hardware needs replacing.
The meeting was hosted by BPA to help prepare an environmental assessment on behalf of residents of Crook County. They are also holding similar meetings in Lake, Jefferson, Deschutes, and Wasco Counties.
Crook County landowner Tom Deck came to the meeting looking for information on how the upgrades might affect a road on his property that has an easement with the BPA.
“It was a nice first shot to see what they are up to,” commented Decker of the meeting. “It was informative. I was pleased.”
He said his main concern was that the road in question would be at least as good if not better than it was before the upgrade work.
Another landowner asked BPA staff similar questions about the process of the road upgrades. They were also concerned about the increase in voltage in the existing lines. The engineers assured them that the levels would be safe, and that they have to maintain acceptable levels.
Erich T. Orth, Project Manager for Bonneville Power Administration, said that the proposed project includes improvements to existing access roads and construction of four new transmission towers. The project would cross five counties — including Crook County. The work would reduce unscheduled outages on the PDCI and increase the transfer capability from the current 3,100 megawatt (MW) capacity to 3,210 MW.
Orth said that another company funds the project, and Bonneville leases back the equipment to pay for the equipment over time. He said this fits the needs of their refinance program without counting against their treasury borrowing authority. The program is then structured into the rates to the consumers.
The towers that BPA will be reinforcing include one in Deschutes and two in Lake County. There are, however, access roads that are included in Crook County that will be part of the upgrade process.
“We do have some access roads that we are looking to improve in the county,” said Orth.
He added that 95 percent of the roads are along the transitional line right-away within the corridor of where all the existing lines and towers are currently located. Orth noted that approximately 33 miles of BPA’s transition lines cross Crook County, and they will be improving about half — or 15 miles — of the distance included in these roads.
Of the lines in question, there are more than 20-30 parcels of private land that BPA crosses in Crook County. Landowners who are impacted by the project have been notified. Approximately half the land where the transition lines cross is private and half is Bureau of Land Management.
“Right now we are in the scoping period of the proposed project, so we are looking for as much feedback from landowners as possible at this point,” said Orth.
Comments should be submitted to BPA online by Oct. 29, 2012. To submit comments, go to www.gov/comment.
To fax comments: 503-230-4019.
For questions or more information call Erich Orth at 1-800-622-4519 or directly at 360-619-6398.