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BPA solicits non-wires ideas to ease congestion

TheBonneville Power Administrationreleased a request for offers on "products or measures" from thirdparties that might help alleviate transmission congestion in southwesternWashington and northwestern Oregon.

TheBPA wants to establish a pilot program to address congestion in the near term,and the requestfor offers wouldinform the power agency about whether cost-effective options exist that couldpotentially defer the need to build the proposed I-5 Corridor ReinforcementProject by at least five years. That proposed 500-kV transmission line wouldrun from the Castle Rock, Wash., area to Troutdale, Ore.

TheBPA in February releaseda final environmental impact statement for the project but also said it wouldcontinue to explore "non-wire" solutions that may address thecongestion issue.

Thefederal power agency, in an April 26 news release, said technologies arecontinuously evolving and new advancements or strategies for their use couldprovide a solution that pushes out the need to build new transmission, whichwould reduce upward pressure on BPA electric rates.

"Bytesting new advances in congestion management on our system, we may be able touncover a solution that helps us defer the need to build in the immediatefuture," Jeff Cook, the BPA's vice president of planning and assetmanagement for transmission, said in a statement.

TheBPA on April 26 said power traveling along a transmission corridor area knownas South of Allston has not been reinforced with additional capacity since the1970s. Since that time, the population around that corridor has more thandoubled.

Duringthe most acute periods of high electric demand, the amount of power travelingon those lines can approach or exceed safe operating limits. The BPA said itsability to manage the generation or demand along this path is more limited inthe summer, creating a reliability risk. With the increasing population insouthwest Washington and northwest Oregon, and the corresponding increase indemand over time, that reliability risk grows as more electricity moves on theexisting lines South of Allston, the BPA said.

TheBPA has said it does not expect to make a decision about the I-5 project beforelate 2016. Regardless of whether a decision is made to proceed with thetransmission line, non-wire congestion management tools will be needed sincecongestion management issues already exist, BPA spokesman Kevin Wingert said.

"Rightnow, we're able to manage those, but we are looking at non-wires to help bridgethe gap between now and the potential energization date of the I-5 project ifwe decide to build it," Wingert said. "It is also possible that thispilot program may lead to deferring the I-5 project."

TheBPA has scheduled abidder's conference for May 9. Responses to the request for offers are due by 5p.m. PT on May 26. The BPA will notify parties with indicative offersconsidered best qualified within 30 days of closing the request. Those partieswould then have to file best and final offers. Final agreements would beestablished by Dec. 31. The potential pilot would start in the summer of 2017,pending environmental review, Wingert said.