Taking preliminary action on the need to build a new energy superhighway that can reliably and cost effectively deliver renewable power, Portland General Electric and PacifiCorp recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to officially open discussions on establishing an agreement to jointly develop, construct and own the Cascade Crossing Transmission Project currently proposed by PGE in the state of Oregon.

“The need for more transmission is regional, so it makes sense to consider partnering with multiple utilities to share the line,” said Steve Hawke, PGE senior vice president for customer service and delivery. “This potential partnership would bring Oregon’s two largest investor-owned utilities together to help meet the state’s growing energy needs, enable the development of more renewable power projects in Oregon, and enhance reliability of the region’s electrical grid. We will both continue to work with others who also may be interested in participating in this project.”

“While not to the finish line yet, this opening of discussions is an initial, yet vital step toward a cost-effective and efficient regional solution to help our customers prepare for a more renewable energy future,” said John Cupparo, vice president of transmission for Pacific Power, the PacifiCorp utility that serves Oregon, Washington and northern California. “If we work together, we can help control costs and minimize the necessary footprint to deliver clean, safe, reliable power to our customers.”

The proposed project would include a new 210-mile double-circuit 500-kV transmission line from the city of Boardman to the Salem area. PGE has applied to the federal government for right of way grants and special use permits to cross federally managed lands and has also submitted a Notice of Intent to apply for an Energy Facility Site Certificate from the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council. If the project is approved, construction would take place between 2013 and 2015.

The Memorandum of Understanding provides that PGE and PacifiCorp will engage in discussions concerning the specific terms and conditions of the Definitive Agreement. Both utilities are already part of the Northern Tier Transmission Group, a regional organization dedicated to transmission issues.