The Bonneville Power Administration plans to build a new 500-kV power line across southeast Washington. The project is expected to provide up to 170 jobs and will carry 840 additional megawatts of renewable wind energy, enough to power about half a million Northwest homes when the wind is blowing.

The line, called the Central Ferry-Lower Monumental line, will extend about 38 miles from a new Central Ferry Substation near Port of Central Ferry in Garfield County west through Garfield, Columbia and Walla Walla counties to BPA’s existing Lower Monumental Substation in Walla Walla County.

“Infrastructure like this is vital to regional and national efforts to deliver renewable energy and enhance our energy independence,” said Larry Bekkedahl, vice president of engineering and technical services, BPA Transmission Services. “The jobs associated with the project will also be a welcome boost to local and regional economies.”

The line was chosen from four proposed routes between the new Central Ferry Substation site and the existing Lower Monumental Substation. BPA will now acquire new 150-foot-wide right-of-way for the entire length of the new line. The line will consist of 161 new lattice steel transmission towers set about 1,200 feet apart and ranging in size from 104 to 189 feet.

The decision is the culmination of a public process launched in June 2009. During that process BPA received hundreds of comments that helped it assess the impacts of the four proposed alternative routes. The process led to development of an environmental impact statement, outlining steps that will help BPA minimize the line’s impacts on land use, wildlife, vegetation, scenery and other resources. Those steps are outlined in the project’s mitigation action plan.

“We thank all the people who took the time to comment on the project,” said Lorri Bodi, vice president for BPA Environment, Fish & Wildlife. “The comments we received helped us find the right place for this important transmission line.”

When complete, the 500-kV Central Ferry-Lower Monumental Transmission Line will distribute increasing amounts of renewable wind energy while strengthening the Northwest power grid for coming decades.