In the fall of 2023, Transmission’s Portfolio Delivery Team completed a project to implement a bypass at the Buckley Substation to keep existing transmission lines operational.


Today, the demands continue to grow, so we are expanding SCM to meet them. The results we have seen so far with SCM have been fantastic and I expect this success to continue.

BPA Vice President, Mike Miller 

Electrons traveling the transmission super-highway in north-central Oregon are flowing freely thanks to a new detour around Buckley Substation, allowing BPA to take the existing substation offline while a new one is built. Transmission Services expedited the bypass procedure using one the newest tools in its construction tool belt, called the Secondary Capacity Model, to complete projects more efficiently while minimizing the use of BPA resources.

“Almost five years ago, we saw a major increase in the amount of work we needed to execute in Transmission Engineering, so we developed the Secondary Capacity Model to meet these needs,” said Mike Miller, vice president of Transmission Engineering, who sponsored and helped develop the SCM program. “Today the demands continue to grow, so we are expanding SCM to meet them. The results we have seen so far with SCM have been fantastic and I expect this success to continue.”

While projects under the Primary Capacity Model are done in-house, the SCM program is a completely contracted model with two layers of contracts – owners consultants and progressive design builders. The OC and PDB work together to complete projects within the SCM program. The PDB is involved with the design and construction aspects, while the OC oversees their work.

To address reliability concerns at Buckley, BPA developed a project to build a new air-insulated substation in place of the 80s-era gas-insulated substation. The rebuild project fell into the SCM program and was handed over to the Transmission Portfolio Delivery team. Upon further examination, it was decided that waiting for the construction of a new substation posed too great a risk.

To keep the existing three 500-kV transmission lines operational, the Portfolio Delivery team developed a project to implement a three-way bypass around the substation. The project was completed within two phases and was a collaboration between multiple groups within Transmission, including Substation Operations, System Engineering, System Operations, Supply Chain Services and the Switchboard Shop.

The first phase of the project was completed in the spring of 2023. PDB contractors completed preliminary work while the substation was still online to mitigate downtime. This included most of the concrete work along with the installation of footings and disconnect switches.

The second phase of the project was completed in the fall of 2023. Once the substation was taken offline, further work inside could be completed. To prevent interference with work on related lines, line jumpers at Buckley were removed, severing any physical connection between work at Buckley and other connected substations (Grizzly, Marion and Slatt).

Inside the substation, new racks were installed to make the new three-terminal configuration possible. The racks were built by Transmission’s Switchboard Shop and sent out to the sites for installation. BPA’s Supply Chain Services helped provide government-furnished materials for this project, including long-lead items like the 500-kV disconnect switches, electrical bus and control cable.

With the bypass complete, focus is back onto the construction of the new air-insulated substation.

“Final testing and commissioning for the relays was performed by District Resources (Chemawa, Redmond, Pasco and The Dalles) as well as BPA Testing and Energization. Thanks to the hard work of all these folks, alongside the contractors, the Buckley bypass was put into service on schedule and done without any safety incidents,” said Buckley construction manager John Belanger.

The SCM program allowed BPA to prioritize the Buckley project and complete it quickly and efficiently. Several other SCM projects are currently under construction, including the construction of a new 500-kV substation near Boardman, Oregon, and a 230-kV bay addition and line re-termination at the Keeler Substation in Beaverton, Oregon.

Looking toward the future, BPA is working to expand the SCM program by adding a second progressive design builder, which would give BPA the ability to roughly double the amount of work going through the program.

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