The Bonneville Power Administration is scrambling to start a transmission line upgrade project on time after a fire burned 78 reels of electrical wire on the far western edge of the Hanford Reach National Monument.
The Aug. 13 brush fire caused considerable damage to materials that had been delivered to the Midway Substation for an upcoming project to replace aging transmission lines and poles strung between Benton and Yakima counties, BPA said.
The fire was hot enough to damage or destroy wire intended for the 34-mile Midway-Moxie transmission line upgrade. The federal power marketing agency estimated the damage at $1.2 million.
BPA is working with its suppliers to ensure the long-awaited project begins on time this fall. The damaged metal wire will be recycled, it noted.
The fire burned into a fenced area near the Midway substation near the intersection of the Benton, Yakima and Grant county lines, near the Priest Rapids Dam at Vernita.
The transmission line project will replace both the wires and poles strung between Moxie and Midway. The line, which parallels Highway 24, was built in the 1940s and is deteriorating, according to BPA.
BPA will replace the 115-kilovolt wire and poles along the same path. The project is meant to improve reliability of the transmission system and to allow local utilities to better meet growing demand for electricity.
Construction is to begin in September and wrap in early 2018.
The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife manages most of the Hanford Reach, but the western area is generally under the administration of the Department of Energy, and BPA is responsible for the Midway substation.