Friday, June 5, 2009

Bonneville Power...

In what is likely the single biggest project I've ever been involved with, this Summer I will be touring throughout the PNW to gain a better understanding of the built resources of the Bonneville Power Administration, BPA. For those that have never thought about it, here's an eye-opener....BPA does not generate any power. Not a watt. By law. BPA was set up during FDR's "New Deal" to transmit and market the power generated at the Bonneville Dam, operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Later BPA was given authority to transmit and market the power generated at Grand Coulee, operated by the US Bureau of Reclamation. At the time it was assumed by everyone that BPA, the Corps, and the Bureau would combine their activities in the Northwest under some large umbrella entity modeled after the Tennessee Valley Authority. It didn't work out that way and today BPA operates more than 15,000 circuit miles of transmission line, hundreds of substation, control rooms, a microwave system, and all of the infrastructure required to keep it working in parts of SEVEN states. Oh, and their system forms the backbone of the Northwest Power Pool, meaning it is integral to the entire electric grid of the Northwest and beyond, including major connections from Canada to California.

And they still don't generate a watt of their own.

I will be working for BPA trying to help the Administration streamline its requirements under Section 106 of the NHPA for what quite literally will be years and years. Rest assured, this won't be the last post on the topic as I begin to become more knowledgeable about towers and what all that electricity meant to the development of the Pacific Northwest.

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