EAST WENATCHEE — The Douglas County PUD will begin work this summer on a new 230 kilovolt transmission line needed to more reliably keep the lights on as the city grows.
PUD spokeswoman Meaghan Vibbert said the $13 million line will stretch 13 miles from the utility’s Douglas Switchyard near Rocky Reach Dam up and across Badger Mountain and down to its Rapids Switchyard in Rock Island. Work should be finished in the summer of 2013.
The line will follow an established “transmission corridor” that already includes high-voltage lines owned by the Bonneville Power Administration, the Chelan County PUD and Puget Sound Energy.
Despite the new line’s origin near Rocky Reach Dam, the Douglas Substation connects to and carries electricity generated at the Douglas PUD’s Wells Dam, near Pateros on the Columbia River, Vibbert said.
The new line is necessary to bolster East Wenatchee’s existing delivery system, which studies have shown is vulnerable to overloads in some neighborhoods under certain conditions — a problem expected to worsen as the city grows.
The new line will bring the system up to federal energy reliability standards and reduce the likelihood of stress-caused outages or drops in voltage, known as “brown outs,” which cause lights to dim, according to information provided by Vibbert.
Commonwealth Associates Inc. of Mount Vernon is designing the project, which will be built on single, steel poles. A construction contract will be advertised and awarded in the coming weeks.
The new line is considered a large project for the PUD. Vibbert said that its estimated $13 million price tag is larger than the typical annual capital budget for the utility’s electric distribution system.