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Commission summary, 6/14/2022: Quincy-area transmission line routes chosen

Transmission projects will increase electrical capacity in Quincy

Grant PUD staff Tuesday presented commissioners with their preferred routes for three new transmission lines that will increase electrical capacity and improve reliability in the ag-and-data hub city of Quincy.

The routes are four of the 10 projects comprising the "Quincy Transmission Expansion Plan (QTEP)," a $140 million package of electric system upgrades. Quincy's current demand for electricity can exceed 200 megawatts during the summer peak. QTEP projects will provide the additional transmission capacity necessary to reliably serve up to 650 megawatts of energy demand, Grant PUD Power Delivery Engineer Randy Kono told commissioners.

The transmission lines and their preferred routes are:
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  • Columbia to Mt. View Substation: Alternative 2 chosen out of three total alternatives. The route begins at Road S SW in Western Quincy and runs 3.2 miles to the Mountain View Substation off of Road 5 NW. The chosen route is the shortest. It would pass along existing agricultural roads and cross the smallest number of private land parcels at 12. It also avoids the less-secure option of locating the line in the same right-of-way as two existing transmission lines. At an estimated $6 million, it's virtually the same cost as the other options. For maps and comparison, see pages 9-10 of the presentation materials.
  • Monument Hill to Rocky Ford: Connects the Mountain View Substation, off of Road 5 NW, to the proposed new Monument Hill Switchyard at Road 11 NW and Road O NW. Alternative 2 was chosen of four options. The route begins on Road 13 NW and continues south along Road C NW to the proposed switchyard site. The route is the shortest at 2.3 miles, the least expensive at approximately $4 million and is already partly on Grant PUD right-of-way. It also crosses the smallest number of private land parcels at seven. For maps and comparison, see pages 12-13 of the presentation materials
  • Monument Hill Loop #1: Would connect the future West Canal Substation off of Road O NW to the North Quincy Substation at Road P NW and Road 11 NW. With the addition of the future Monument Hill Switchyard, connections will be established to form an energy-supply "loop," improving reliability. Alternative 1 was selected out of three options. The route is the shortest at 1.4 miles, the least expensive at $4 million and avoids railroad and irrigation canal crossings. For maps and comparison, see pages 15-16 of the presentation materials.

Construction is expected to begin on these three lines in early 2026 with service to begin in early 2028.

The route of a fourth transmission line, from the Wanapum Dam switchyard near Beverly 30 miles north to the Mountain View Substation, should be chosen by year end or early 2023. The team is studying four alternatives. For maps and comparison, see pages 19-22 of the presentation materials.Route selections were subject to months of information gathering, analysis and opportunities for in-person or virtual public comment. The Grant PUD team of engineers and hired consultant Kirk Moughamer of engineering firm HDR Inc. also consulted with Grant County, the City of Quincy, the state Department of Fish & Wildlife, the Bureau of Reclamation, and others.

View the full presentation on pages 1-23 of the presentation materials. Hear the conversation at 1:14:53 on the commission audio.

Cascade Valley outages addressed

Three residents of the Cascade Valley region of Moses Lake used the public comment portion of the meeting to ask what was being done by Grant PUD to address a recent spate of outages that occurred in the area over the past two weeks.

General Manager Rich Wallen said he understood the frustrations about the outages. Wallen explained that the outages were initially thought to be the result of an overly sensitive recloser. (A recloser is a device that disconnects power temporarily when a problem is detected on a power line. The device disconnects and reconnects the power in a short interval to determine if the problem is temporary or needs to be addressed by a line crew.) Eventually after an outage on Sunday, June 12, a line crew located a problem with a jumper (a short section of wire that connects one line with another) on a power pole. The crew replaced the bad jumper, and so far there have not been any further outages on that section of line.

The residents said they would appreciate more communication from Grant PUD in similar circumstances going forward. Commissioners and staff both said they would consider how to improve communications. (Discussion starts at 3:08:00 in the recording)

Community engagement plan presented

Chuck Allen, Senior Manager of External Affairs & Communications, and Annette Lovitt, Community Engagement Coordinator, gave a presentation to the commission about the utility's outreach and education efforts for 2022.

Plans include having a large presence at the 2022 Grant County Fair with education and activities centered around Grant PUD's recreational opportunities on the Columbia River. Along with participating in the fair, the utility plans to participate in several community events from Grand Coulee to Mattawa.

The utility also recently held the annual Solar Car Races for Grant County fifth grade students in partnership with the Moses Lake School District, Big Bend Community College, REC Silicon, and North Central Educational Service District. Along with building and racing solar cars, the students learn about the water cycle and how it fuels hydropower, electrical safety, and how solar energy is harnessed.

View the full presentation on pages 70-86 of the presentation materials. Hear the conversation at 3:56:45 on the commission audio.​​​​​​​

Commissioners also:
-- Heard Brett Lenz, manager of Cultural Resources, describe a new exhibit at the Wanapum Heritage Center, which is now open to the public on Monday, Thursday, and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A visiting exhibition titled River of Memory: The Everlasting Columbia is in the temporary exhibit space. The exhibition shares 129 photos of the Columbia River before hydropower facilities were constructed. It also has hand-painted silk fish and words of inspiration. The Wanapum language program remains ongoing as the spoken language is taught to Wanapum youth and preserved for future generations.

Lenz also provided a presentation on the geography of the Priest Rapids region and how volcanic and seismic activity created the topography. View the full presentation on pages 51-86 of the presentation materials. Hear the conversation at 3:32:23 on the commission audio.

-- Heard Electric Engineering Manager Ian Jones explain staff's choice of McKay and Sposito for a 5-year, $5 million contract for support and inspections of a slate of upcoming projects at Wanapum and Priest Rapids dams. Staff evaluated three bids including McKay's and chose McKay after the firm scored the highest on a nine-category, capacity-gauging scale. The selection team also pointed to McKay's proven track record of capability and its history of providing a high level of service to Grant PUD in the past. Projects within the scope of the contract include upgrades at the substations at both dams, a project to anchor the Priest Rapids Dam spillway more securely to bedrock and rehabilitate its spill gates. Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the contract at their next meeting, June 28. View the full presentation on pages 24-37 of the presentation materials. Hear the conversation at 2:17:24 on the commission audio.

--Heard from Tom Dresser, Manager of Fish, Wildlife and Water Quality that his department expects to underspend his approximately $2.9 million capital budget, largely because the District has not found contractors to bid on a project to develop domestic and fish-production wells at the District's Carlton Acclimation Facility, south of Twisp, in Okanogan County. The acclimation facility is used to rear summer Chinook prior to release in April/May of each year. The Methow River, which supplies river water to the facility, is naturally migrating away from the facility's water intake, reducing available supply of river water. This project would ensure the facility has the water necessary for rearing the fish when river water is low or becomes unavailable, Dresser said. He and his team plan to rebid the project in the near future. View the full presentation on pages 38-50 of the presentation materials. Hear the conversation at 2:29:54 on the commission audio.