BPA to begin 3-year, $20M upgrade

Service transmission poles on Highway 126 to be replaced

Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) representatives met with the public during an open house at the Florence Events Center Wednesday to talk about a $20 million dollar, three-year construction project that will begin in July.

BPA’s project will start at the west end of the Wendson substation, near Florence, and replace the 70-year-old wooden power poles between Florence and Eugene.

BPA Public Affairs Specialist John Tyler said, “The Lane-Wendson transmission line was originally constructed in 1947. The wooden tower polls that are used to support the transmission lines have outlived their useful service life. There is a need to replace those aged power poles with newer ones to ensure that we are able to continue to transmit electricity reliably.”

The 2017 phase of the project will focus on replacing polls between the Wendson substation and the Mapleton substation.

“In 2018, we will focus work between Mapleton and the Walton substation. The final phase in 2019 is between the Walton and Lane substations, close to Eugene,” Tyler said.

He said the most challenging part of the project is the stretch of poles going over the coast range, between Mapleton and Walton.

BPA provides electricity generated from 31 federal hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River and its tributaries and a nuclear plant located at the Hanford Site in Washington.

Tyler said, “BPA sells wholesale electricity to public utility districts in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Western Montana, including Central Lincoln Public Utility District. We also transmit electricity, for a fee. When British Columbia generates excess electricity and they want to transmit it to Los Angeles, we will move that electricity along our lines.”

According to Tyler, the project will not cause a rate hike in utility bills.

“BPA has anticipated this project for a long time. The financial impact has already been built into the rate structure that we have. This project will not increase rates because it is already in the rates we are currently charging,” he said.

The project will also improve BPA’s reliability.

BPA Substation Operator Larry Kite said, “It is important to have redundant electricity routes. In the event of maintenance or some kind accident, people may not even know, because the electricity still gets to their house.

“Most of the time, your lights will blink, maybe for a couple of seconds. There is a fair chance a line may have kicked off and be out of service because of storm damage. One line coming into this area was out for six weeks last winter because of severe ice storm damage in Eugene.”

In addition to helping improve reliability, the project will have a positive impact on the local economy.

According to Tyler, BPA workers and subcontractors will stay at local motels, eat at local restaurants and buy groceries and gas locally.

The only inconvenience Tyler sees will be that some traffic along Highway 126 may be temporarily interrupted when materials are moved from the staging area to the point of installation.

For more information, visit www.bpa.gov.

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