Grand Coulee was the first hydroelectric project in the Federal Columbia River Power System to receive updated high-side metering systems that will provide greater insight and accuracy into the actual flow of electricity entering BPA’s bulk electric grid.
By the numbers: Metering Review Update
Project totals across Grand Coulee switchyards
“The value of this project is hard to overstate,” said Allie Mace, the grid modernization director in BPA’s Business Transformation Office. “Installing these modern meters that provide improved accuracy in real time is foundational for many other efforts in our grid modernization portfolio. The Metering Review and Update project is a key component of our efforts to achieve improved accuracy and enhanced visibility into the federal power and transmission systems.”
In addition to significant operational benefits for BPA, the new metering systems will also better position BPA for participation in the Western Energy Imbalance Market. BPA plans to make a decision on whether or not to join the EIM in September 2021 with a potential go-live date in March 2022. The market has cost penalties for any deviations between scheduled and actual generation. The new, revenue-quality metering systems will help reduce the potential of unintended imbalance charges and ensure that our potential market participation realizes greater value.
The MRU project represents a unique cross-agency effort that involves collaboration with BPA’s federal partners - the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. From within BPA, elements of Transmission Planning, Engineering, Operations, and Field Services, Power Planning, and Environment, Fish and Wildlife, Supply Chain Services, Customer Support Services, and the Business Transformation Office were represented on the multi-disciplinary team behind the project.
The first, massive task of the team was to account for and analyze every single meter across BPA’s grid. An earlier cross-agency effort supported by MRU, the Revenue Meter Billing Strike Team, inventoried all load meters. MRU completed interchange metering activity in the fall of 2020 and continues generation metering inventory through April 2021. Inventory activities covered physical meters used for federal generation (155+), non-federal generation (125+), interchange (344 +), and load (990+) for an estimated total of 1,614 meters as of December 2020. Meter inventory continues to change and grow through upgrades, additions and expansions to BPA’s transmission infrastructure as indicated by “+” with the meter counts.
In June 2019, the team began work with contractor Burns & McDonnell to develop the design for and installation of the new meter systems at Grand Coulee, Chief Joseph and John Day. In June 2020, the team began work with contractor Henkels & McCoy to being construction of the first location Grand Coulee 500-, 230-, and 115kV switchyards.
Grand Coulee is the first of the thirteen planned projects to see work completed. Work in each of the switchyards resulted in miles of new cable being laid to install the current transformers and meters. The construction took place during the pandemic presenting its own unique challenges. BPA, Reclamation and our contractors all worked with evolving federal, state, local and internal guidelines to keep onsite construction team members safe during construction.
“Crossing the finish line at Grand Coulee is a huge achievement for the team and will result in great data for use by both our Transmission and Power business lines to enable us to better serve our customers and the region,” said Kelly Gardner, the project manager for MRU. “Coordinating the necessary outages with our partners and the sheer planning by engineers and the electrical and physical work by contractors that needs to take place in these substations for each of the hydroelectric projects is no small feat.”
The completed installation of new meters at Grand Coulee will enable testing data in parallel operations prior to the proposed go-live date in the EIM. Construction at John Day started in October 2020 with work anticipated to be wrapped up in 2022. Chief Joseph construction started in December 2020 with work anticipated to be wrapped up this May. Bonneville (North Bonneville Substation) and McNary are anticipated to start construction in 2021 with construction wrapping up in 2022.
BPA anticipates completion of the first raft of projects – which include The Dalles (Big Eddy Substation), McNary, Lower Granite, Little Goose and Lower Monumental projects – to be completed by September 2024. A second bundle of federal hydroelectric projects is anticipated to begin scoping later this spring.
MRU is one of several grid modernization projects that support the implementation of BPA’s strategic goals to modernize federal power and transmission system operations and supporting technology, and to provide competitive power and transmission products and services. To learn more about the portfolio of projects or to see all that’s happening with grid modernization, click here.