Hearings set on proposed US-Canadian transmission line

OGJ Online

Nov. 10, 2000à‚–National Energy Systems Co. proposed a new international 230 kV transmission line that will connect its proposed 660 MW gas-fired power plant in Washington to the western power grid via Canada.

The power plant to be located in Sumas, Wash., in the far northwest corner of the state. The shortest route to get the power to the grid is 5 miles north through Canada to connect with BC Hydro’s Clayburn substation in Abbotsford, BC, says Chuck Martin, vice president of National Energy Systems, a independent power plant developer.

The BC Hydro transmission system is connected to the Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) transmission system. Power generated by the Sumas plant could be sold to Canadian buyers or to US customers. Power flows both ways through the interconnected grid on the border of the two countries. A nonprofit federal entity, BPA owns and operates 15,000 miles of transmission lines in the Pacific Northwest.

National Energy’s transmission line must be approved by the National Energy Board of Canada, which has scheduled public information meetings Nov. 21-22 and a hearing Feb. 19, 2001, on the proposal.

“Already we have received 1,000 letters running against the transmission line,” says Denis Tremblay, communications officer for the National Energy Board.

The company argues the Canadian route is the most cost effective and least intrusive route for the transmission line. Most of the route is an industrial corridor and the portion of the line passing through commercial and residential areas of the city of Abbotsford will be built underground. The only other possibility would be a 20-mile route through Whatcom County to the nearest interconnection with BPA, says Martin.

But Whatcom County has an existing ordinance that limits new transmission lines to 114 kV within the county, he says.

The Canadian hearings are expected to last 2-3 weeks. A few months later, the board will make a decision, Tremblay says.

Discussing the transmission line may be moot unless the power plant is approved by the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council in Washington. The council is in the review process now and is expected to make a final decision by the end of the year, says Martin.

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