Daniel Poneman, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, joined Steve Wright, Bonneville Power Administration administrator, June 15 along BPA's new McNary-John Day transmission line. Poneman was there to announce $2 billion in Northwest projects funded by BPA's increased borrowing authority provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Poneman also praised progress on construction of the 500-kV line. As he watched, crews perched in recently erected towers helped a helicopter string new cables over the rolling hills of eastern Washington.

"It's impossible to exaggerate the importance of what's happening out here to our nation," he said. He said new transmission projects and other upgrades to the Northwest power system are providing jobs and boosting clean and renewable energy. He also said Secretary of Energy Steven Chu has been relying on Wright to help examine options for energy storage that will help support integration of renewable energy.

Poneman, who also serves as chief operating officer of the department, continued his meetings with BPA executives on June 16. This was his first visit to BPA since he took office.

As part of the Recovery Act, BPA's U.S. Treasury borrowing authority was increased by $3.25 billion in February 2009. BPA, DOE and the Office of Management and Budget have identified up to $2 billion in major projects BPA will fund through that increased borrowing authority.

The McNary-John Day line is the first project BPA has constructed using ARRA funding. BPA is also pursuing environmental review of three more transmission projects as well as hydro system upgrades, energy efficiency initiatives and fish hatchery construction.

In making the announcement, Poneman said, "BPA's Recovery Act projects will create hundreds of good-paying jobs and help reduce carbon pollution by bringing even more renewable energy to the region. This important investment in the Northwest is an example of the Recovery Act at work – jumpstarting the economy, modernizing the nation's infrastructure, delivering renewable energy, and enhancing energy independence."