The federal Bonneville Power Administration said it will begin work this week on a new $185 million high-voltage power line it says will increase its ability to handle wind energy expansion.

The 500-kilovolt transmission line will run 28 miles from the federal agency's Big Eddy Substation near the Dalles to a new substation four miles northwest of Goldendale, Wash., and will be called the Big Eddy-Knight Line.

Construction, which is projected to provide up to 100 new construction-related jobs, is scheduled to start this week.

The new line will help BPA move energy east of the Cascade Mountains to homes and business in population centers west of the Cascades.

The BPA said the line will also allow it to provide transmission service for more than 4,000 megawatts of renewable wind energy.

Though the BPA has added around 3,500 megawatts of wind energy capacity since 2005, its plan to manage that capacity has drawn the ire of some wind developers. Several developers filed appeals in federal court this summer over the BPA's plan to balance to load on the power grid by curtailing wind farm production during periods of high production from its hydroelectric dams.

"Upgrading BPA's transmission system will not only create up to 100 construction jobs, it will strengthen BPA's ability to handle further expansion of wind energy and other renewable energy projects in the region," U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a news release.

The first half of the 28-mile line will follow existing right-of-way along a double-circuit tower that already carries an existing BPA transmission line. The final 14 miles it will travel newly acquired right-of-way.

"This is the third major transmission project to be approved over the past two years to help utilities and others move energy where it is needed," Larry Bekkedahl, vice president of BPA Transmission Services Engineering and Technical Services, said in a news release.

The project is financed partly with the BPA's borrowing authority included in the federal stimulus bill.


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