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BPA supports its Olympic connection
2/1/2010 12:00 AM
Bonneville Power Administration staff - from Transmission's field services to control center dispatchers - have worked behind the scenes in recent months to help make sure the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C., get safe, reliable and green electricity.
Organizers are billing the February 2010 Olympics as the greenest and most sustainable winter games, in large part because they will be powered by renewable hydroelectric energy from BC Hydro, British Columbia's main power supplier. Close to a tenth of that hydropower may come from Columbia River hydroelectric dams under what's called the Canadian entitlement - a share of power generated in the United States by water stored in Canada.
BPA delivers the power to Canada over a path on its transmission system called the Northern Intertie, which includes lines and substations from Puget Sound north to the Canadian border. The Intertie transits a part of BPA's grid that faces increasing demand from population growth and changes in local power generation, so BPA staff have worked in concert with their Canadian colleagues and partner utilities to minimize risk of outages or transmission bottlenecks during the games.
Field staff in BPA's Snohomish District have been especially vigilant about patrolling the transmission lines ahead of the Olympics and removing any possible hazard trees or vegetation along the right-of-way, said Adelmo de la Cruz, BPA's Snohomish District manager.
Crews removing trees must sometimes take lines out of service for their personal safety, "and we want to avoid taking outages on the Intertie during the Olympics," he said. "If we find something, we'll deal with it before the Olympics begin."
BC Transmission Corporation, which manages the BC power grid, asked BPA and other major Northwest utilities to avoid any planned maintenance outages that would limit power flows over the Intertie during the Olympics, which run from Feb. 12 to 28. To cooperate, BPA field supervisors sped up some maintenance and delayed other projects so they would take place before or after the Olympics, DelaCruz said.
"We didn't want to impact the Northern Intertie during that window," he said.
The Olympics are not expected to consume a large amount of additional power, but worldwide attention will underscore the need for reliable, sustainable power. Organizers hope the Vancouver Olympics will be first carbon-neutral games. For instance, they have installed backup power lines to Olympic venues, minimizing the need for portable generators that would otherwise emit large amounts of greenhouse gases.
BPA's Transmission staff is also working with BCTC to agree on operating protocols during the Olympics, which will include regular and closer communications among BCTC, BPA and Puget Sound area utilities. That builds on the existing collaboration necessary to maintain a safe and reliable power system, said Rich Ellison, Dittmer dispatch manager.
"We might not keep the Olympic torch lit, but we'll keep the lights on for the Olympic venues," he said.
The winter games will take place at a time of year when cold snaps could increase power demands on BPA's system, noted. Susan Millar, a BPA compliance specialist in Transmission Marketing and Sales. BPA dispatchers will closely watch transmission paths over the Cascade Range that could affect power deliveries north toward Canada and south toward Portland, she said.
"Certainly the Canadians want to make this as good as it can be, and we want to be good neighbors and assist them with that," she said, "just as we'd like them to do for us."
For more information about sustainability at the 2010 Olympics:
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