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Richland, Wash. - With the goal of bringing new jobs and green power to the West, Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the start of the McNary-John Day transmission project in Washington and Oregon, which will be funded by $343 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The project is expected to deliver almost 600 megawatts of clean, renewable wind energy to homes and business across the West.

"These Recovery Act funds are putting people to work today to build the infrastructure that will be vital to our economy in the future," said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "By integrating renewable energy sources onto the electrical grid now, we are helping to develop a new American economy powered by clean, secure and affordable energy sources."

The Bonneville Power Administration's (BPA) 79 mile McNary-John Day line will run from the McNary Substation in Oregon, across the Columbia River into Washington, and back into Oregon where it will end at the John Day Substation. The project is expected to create between 100 and 200 construction jobs at its peak and, once energized in early 2012, the new line will provide firm transmission service for more than 575 megawatts of wind energy. Contracts for the line's construction and conductors were awarded earlier this year, with roads and steel towers already being built for the line.

"We're putting shovels in the ground and dollars in the pockets of local workers," said Steve Wright, BPA Administrator. "In addition to supporting the region's recovery efforts, BPA is answering the call of wind developers with whom we're working closely to increase the amount of renewable energy that powers the Northwest."

For the past two months, crews have been busy building roads and erecting steel towers for the line between McNary Dam and Paterson, Wash. Materials also were purchased within the region. Earlier this spring, BPA awarded $9.5 million to Alcan Cable, located in Roseburg, Ore., to provide the conductor for the line.

BPA is also moving forward with environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for three additional high-voltage transmission lines to meet load growth and facilitate renewable resource development needs across the Northwest.
McNary-John Day and the additional three proposed lines would add more than 225 miles of lines to the Northwest transmission grid, improving reliability and allowing BPA to provide transmission service to about 3,360 megawatts of requests for BPA transmission, including service for 2,575 megawatts of additional green energy.

BPA is a not-for-profit federal electric utility that operates a high-voltage transmission grid comprising more than 15,000 miles of lines and associated substations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. It also markets more than a third of the electricity consumed in the Pacific Northwest. The power is produced at 31 federal dams and one nuclear plant in the Northwest and is sold to more than 140 Northwest utilities. BPA purchases power from seven wind projects and has more than 2,000 megawatts of wind interconnected to its transmission system.

Media contact(s):

Department of Energy: 202-586-4940
BPA: Doug Johnson, 503-230-5840