The Bonneville Power Administration has selected Wilson Construction, headquartered in Canby, Oregon, to construct part of its McNary-John Day 500-kV high-voltage transmission line. When energized in late 2012, the line will allow BPA to provide transmission service to more than 870 MW of energy, including service for more than 700 MW of new wind energy.

“This contract means green jobs and green energy for the Northwest,” said Larry Bekkedahl, vice president, BPA Engineering and Technical Services. “BPA is poised to meet the region’s environmental needs as well as its economic and energy needs.”

Earlier this year, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act increased the amount of money it can borrow from the U.S. Treasury by $3.25 billion. While BPA must repay the money to the U.S. Treasury with interest, the increased access to capital removed a major uncertainty for BPA, and led to the decision to proceed with this project.

“This project not only creates jobs today by putting construction workers employed by an Oregon-based company into good-paying, family wage jobs, but it will help create more jobs tomorrow by allowing more wind and other renewable energy projects to be built and sell their electricity into the electric grid,” said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).

“These funds are spurring pioneering clean energy programs and good old fashioned job creation,” said U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR). “From Oregon to Washington, these funds are re-energizing the Pacific Northwest.”

“Today’s announcement will bring much needed jobs to our community,” said U.S. Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR). “This is a great example of federal dollars making it to the local level to help Oregon families. I look forward to continuing to see projects like this one that embrace renewable energy while creating family-wage jobs.”

The line will run from BPA's McNary Substation in Oregon, cross the Columbia River into Washington and run parallel to the Columbia River for 75 miles, mostly within existing rights-of-way, then cross the Columbia River back into Oregon and end at BPA's John Day Substation. This contract secures Wilson Construction’s services to construct the approximate 70 mile portion of the line on the Washington side of the Columbia River. BPA will select a contractor or contractors to construct the remaining work on the line at a later date.

McNary-John Day is one of four high-voltage transmission lines BPA has proposed to meet the region’s transmission needs. The four projects would add more than 225 miles of lines to the Northwest transmission grid improving reliability and, together with a smaller upgrade, allowing BPA to provide transmission service to about 3,700 megawatts of requests received in the Network Open Season, including service for 2,790 megawatts of additional green energy.