“Even with streamflows below average levels, we are in a good position to serve our customers over this very hot weekend. I want to thank our partners at the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the work and coordination they provide at the region’s 31 federal dams to ensure reliable operations.”Suzanne Cooper, Senior Vice President of Power Services
As record-breaking heat bears down on the Pacific Northwest this weekend, the Bonneville Power Administration has taken several steps to position the federal power and transmission system to serve its customers during this weather event. BPA is ready to keep lights and air conditioners on even with the triple digit temperatures forecast across the region.
“We take our responsibility to provide reliable electricity to the consumer-owned utilities in the region very seriously,” said BPA Administrator John Hairston. “We are working hard to provide non-stop, reliable electricity this weekend to help residents and businesses stay cool and safe during the heatwave.”
On the Power Services side of BPA, these factors are helping:
- The Columbia Generating Station, a nuclear plant owned by Energy Northwest that produces power marketed by BPA, returned online this past weekend from a spring refueling outage. That adds over a 1,100 megawatts of generation in the Northwest and the West.
- Programmed fish spill on the lower Columbia and Snake rivers transitioned from spring to summer operations, increasing the federal hydropower generation from those facilities.
- The Bureau of Reclamation has the Grand Coulee reservoir well positioned to meet its refill target in early July, freeing up the remaining water flow to pass through the system for both power and non-power purposes.
“Even with streamflows below average levels, we are in a good position to serve our customers over this very hot weekend,” said Senior Vice President of Power Services Suzanne Cooper. “I want to thank our partners at the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the work and coordination they provide at the region’s 31 federal dams to ensure reliable operations.”
Despite the lower-than-average water year, there is plenty of water behind Grand Coulee Dam and some snowpack left in the Canadian Rockies. Unlike 2015 and 2001, years with a similar volume of water, the shape of this year’s runoff has been slower with snow gradually melting above Grand Coulee.
On the transmission side, BPA is taking measures to ensure the safe and reliable flow of electricity this weekend. BPA owns and operates more than 15,000 circuit miles of transmission lines across the Northwest and small amounts in Nevada, Utah and California.
“The reliable flow of electricity is vital to public safety,” said BPA Transmission Services Senior Vice President Richard Shaheen. “We’ve put all maintenance projects that we can on pause to ensure our transmission system can handle increased flows and meet our customers’ demands.”
On Thursday, BPA restricted planned maintenance on its transmission grid from 6 a.m. Monday, June 28 through Tuesday, June 29 at 10 p.m., so the federal agency can leverage the system to its greatest use when load is expected to increase with the start of the work week.
“Having all of our lines available will help relieve congestion on the system,” said Vice President of Transmission Operations Michelle Cathcart. “With these unprecedented temperatures, we want to ensure electricity can move freely and reliably meet customer demands.”
This winter, the Lower Snake River Dams provided important real-time electricity and critical power reserves. They are without question winter work horses.
Years of planning and preparation paid off recently when the last of three generators came back online at Grand Coulee Dam.