Bonneville Power Administration to upgrade transmission at Grand Coulee Dam

The Bureau of Reclamation will spend 18 months project in late 2013 upgrading a '70s-era relay system

The Bureau of Reclamation will spend 18 months project in late 2013 upgrading a '70s-era relay system that serves high voltage power lines connected to the Grand Coulee Dam.

The relay system protects seven transmission lines that run from a hydroelectric power plant to the 500-kV and 230-kV switchyards. From those switchyards, the dam's energy is connected to the regional power grid.

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) will fund the $4 million project, which will also include installing several miles of fiber optic cable for relay communications between the switchyards and power plants.

The upgrades are scheduled to be completed by April 2014.

Other preliminary projects include the replacement of oil-filled transmission cables within the dam itself with overhead 500-kV transmission lines.

Power facilities at Grand Coulee Dam include 33 generators in three power plants, a pumping plant and three switchyards. Total rated generating capacity of the dam is 6,809 MW, making it one of the largest hydropower producers in North America, according to BPA.

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