A Substation to Grow On

Quenett Creek Substation Will Serve Significant Load Growth in The PUD District

Northern Wasco County PUD and Bonneville Power Administration officials gather with community partners to celebrate the completion of the Quenett Creek Substation, which was built to serve significant load growth in the region and to enable potential economic growth in The Dalles and rural communities as far away as Cascade Locks, Goldendale, and Fossil. Kathy Ursprung photos

The steel spires of Quenett Creek Substation towered high above the crowd gathered to celebrate their completion, gleaming in the late morning sun on June 13, like a promise for the future.

“This project is very central to everything we would like to accomplish in the region,” says Elliott Mainzer, Administrator of Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). The power agency is responding to “tremendous change” in its industry.

The substation will serve new load growth from throughout the Mid-Columbia region. It is part of a larger project that included upgrades and new
infrastructure at BPA’s Big Eddy and Chenoweth substations.

Elliott moderated the celebration at the Port of The Dalles’ Columbia Gorge Industrial Center, where new industrial development has been underway for the past four years.

Jeremy Wolf and Aaron Ashley, Board of Trustee members for the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs, performed an invocation, adding an air of solemnity to the event.

BPA worked closely with the Tribes to protect the cultural and natural resources of the area.

“This is more than a place; it’s a way of life,” Jeremy says.

“We want to thank you, Bonneville Power Administration, for your leadership in working to protect and look after our cultural and natural resources,” Aaron adds.

Bonneville broke ground on Quenett Creek in January 2018 on property 90 percent encumbered by a BPA right-of-way. Using this space minimized the substation’s impact on the limited space at the Port.

Partnering with contractor Burns & McDonnell, Bonneville used an engineer, to procure, and construct a strategy that saved time by allowing design and construction activities to occur in parallel.

The substation was largely completed 15 months after the contract was signed between BPA and Burns & McDonnell. It then took another six weeks to commission and energize the facility.

Elliot noted that the group of projects involved more than 70,000 working hours and incurred no lost days due to safety incidents.

He also acknowledged the project’s many community partners, including the City of The Dalles, Wasco County, and the Port, but particularly the PUD, whose staff worked alongside their Bonneville partners to complete the project.

“There were high expectations, big deadlines, and challenges doing it this way,” he says.

Roger Kline, PUD General Manager, also acknowledged the many partnerships involved in the project, as well as the PUD staff members who worked with BPA on the project.

“This collaboration and partnership doesn’t happen without your steadfast presence and ability to grind it out,” Rogers says.

Community members gather at the Columbia Gorge Industrial Center, part of the Port of The Dalles, where the new substation looms in the background beyond the shade tent.

The region’s role as a trading hub for millennia was also in his thoughts. Quinett is the tribal name for the “salmon-trout” or steelhead, and also the earlier name of what is now called Chenoweth Creek, which flows to the Columbia River near the new substation. Native peoples met there to harvest salmon, steelhead, lamprey, and other species for sustenance and trade.

“Fast forward to the harnessing of flowing water to create energy to electrify the West, to the energy-intensive aluminum industry for a time, and now to the information and data-centric age,” Roger says. “We are so fortunate as a community and region to be able to provide such resilient, robust, environmentally responsible energy to our customer-owners via investments like the Quenett Creek Substation and the other work that was accomplished as part of this project. We are very well positioned to keep growing for years to come.”

Wasco County Commissioner Scott Hege, representing the other community partners, also offered a long-range perspective on the project. He spoke about the Chenoweth Substation, located adjacent to Quenett, and the role it played in providing power for the aluminum smelter that was once a major economic engine and employer for The Dalles.

“[Industrial development] is one of the biggest ways you get resources invested in the community,” Scott says. “Without infrastructure like this, we would not see any of it.” Without development, and the resulting tax revenue, Wasco County would not be able to provide the range of services it offers to local residents, he adds.

PUD Needs Your Photos

Another calendar page has turned and it’s already time to start planning the PUD’s 2020 calendar.

We are inviting the public to submit photos for the calendar. They should be of high resolution and good quality.

Please email photos to Kathy Mcbride Email.