Bonneville Power Administration crews will be surveying near neighborhoods in Kittitas County, Washington, this summer to identify and catalog environmental and cultural resources that could be affectedd by a proposed transmission line improvement project.

The environmental field surveys are part of a larger environmental review to help BPA decide whether and how to improve 14 miles of the Columbia-Ellensburg 115-kV transmission line in central Washington. If BPA decides to proceed, construction would likely begin in spring 2008 at the Ellensburg Substation and stretch 10 miles north to the Schultz Substation and then cover the four-mile stretch east toward the Columbia Substation. The project would be completed in June 2009.

The proposed upgrades, which include wood pole and hardware replacements, would help address line overloads in the area. “Our region continues to experience population increases and growth in business and industry,” said Mark Korsness, project manager for the improvement effort. “In turn, the associated increase in electricity consumption places more needs on our infrastructure.”

Some of the new poles will be 5 feet to 10 feet taller than the existing poles in this corridor, but will be placed as close to existing poles as possible. Also, a portion of the existing conductor on the line may be replaced to meet current industry standards.

BPA began an aggressive program in 2001 to build a number of major infrastructure projects to meet the growing demand for transmission services in the Northwest. The Columbia-Ellensburg project and others like it demonstrate a commitment to improving the reliability of the region’s transmission system.