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 January 11, 2012
BPA to Begin Construction of Six 500-kV Lines at Grand Coulee

 The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) plans to begin construction of six new 500-kV overhead transmission lines at the Grand Coulee Dam---the nation's largest hydropower facility---next month, the public service organization said last week. The new lines will help ensure continued safe and reliable transmission of power between Grand Coulee Dam's third power plant and the BPA's vast high-voltage power grid.

The decision to move forward follows BPA's completion of the final environmental assessment for the Grand Coulee 500-kV transmission line replacement project and release of its "Finding of No Significant Impact" (FONSI). The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates Grand Coulee Dam, also has released a FONSI on the project.

BPA said it assisted the bureau with the design of the project and will be constructing it for Reclamation. BPA said it will also fund the multi--million dollar project.

"As we approach the 75th anniversary of the Federal Columbia River Power System, it is important that we make investments like this so we can continue to provide safe, reliable and low cost power to the Northwest for another 75 years," said Mark Korsness, BPA project manager.

The six new 500-kV overhead lines will replace six existing underground lines. The underground lines consist of aging, oil-filled cables between Grand Coulee's third power plant and the 500-kV spreading yard. The new overhead lines will transfer power across the Columbia River and over the visitor center area, and then proceed uphill to connect to existing lines that transfer power from this area into the regional power grid.

Old lines inside the dam will be replaced with new overhead lines that will run directly from the third power plant, across the Columbia River to the spreader yard.

The project will include the construction of new towers and access roads in the area. During construction, there will be temporary short-term closures of the park and highway but no significant impact on the popular public laser show. Bids for the project went out in December and a contractor will be selected this month.

Construction will continue through the winter of 2012, as weather permits