Bonneville Power Administration

09/20/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 09/20/2021 15:13

Taylor Lake pole replacement project illustrates proactive approach to wildfire mitigation

Taylor Lake pole replacement project illustrates proactive approach to wildfire mitigation

Near The Dalles, Oregon, a lineman finishes stringing conductor on a new H-frame structure as part of the Taylor Lake priority pole replacement project, an example of BPA's proactive approach to year-round wildfire mitigation.

The historic Labor Day fires that spanned Oregon and Washington one year ago and the ongoing fires this summer are a reminder that the region is experiencing longer and more severe wildfire seasons. The priority pole replacement work at Taylor Lake demonstrates the Bonneville Power Administration's proactive approach to wildfire mitigation and safe management of the transmission grid.

The pole replacement job, completed by field crews from The Dalles, Chehalis, Ross and Covington districts in May, preemptively removed the risk of structural failure and fire hazards before the onset of this year's wildfire season. The work also prevented the need for last-minute emergency repairs, which create environmental and cultural concerns, and unscheduled outages.

"BPA proactively stepped up to keep the lights on and continue our mission of reliably and safely delivering power to our customers," said Scott Williams, construction planning lead and lineman foreman III for The Dalles District. "A big thank you goes out to Transmission Line Maintenance support and the field crews for their hard work."

BPA identified the need for the replacement project after Transmission Field Services conducted a routine wood pole inspection close to Quenett Creek and Chenoweth substations near The Dalles, Oregon. Regular inspections of transmission poles, lines, substations and energized equipment are key mitigation practices conducted throughout the year and outlined in the agency's Wildfire Mitigation Plan.

The patrol crew identified five wooden H-frame structures belonging to the Chenoweth-Goldendale No. 1 line, the Big Eddy-Quenett Creek No. 1 line and the Big Eddy-Quenett Creek No. 2 line in need of replacement. Installed between 50 and 60 years ago, the poles were aging with some rotting due to insect infestation. If left exposed to more dry summer months and harsh, windy winters, the poles could have presented a fire hazard in the future.

Safety by design increases long-term success

To eliminate these threats, BPA engineering and field teams planned the Taylor Lake structure replacements with a safety by design approach, which considers efficiency, constructability and safety. In other words, transmission maintenance and replacement projects undergo thorough reviews, incorporating design changes that meet current safety standards and include innovations that reduce maintenance and can increase the project's long-term success.

In keeping with this approach on the Taylor Lake project, the design team kept four of the five H-frame structures in their original location but positioned one new structure on the Big Eddy-Quenett Creek No. 2 line 45 feet away from its initial placement. Field crews built the structure on a rocky ridge to ensure proper ground clearance for extra line sag, which occurs as conductor temperatures increase from load carried to meet customer demand. Including this adjustment in the project design considers both public safety and prevents the risk of igniting a wildfire in an already fire-prone grassy, dry location.

In addition to removing immediate risks of wildfire hazards, BPA considers the long-term outlook with its asset management projects by incorporating innovation. For the Taylor Lake project, field crews built all five new structures using light-duty steel poles, alternatives to wood poles that offer better resistance to fire damage and lessen the probability of an unplanned outage that could affect communities spanning beyond The Dalles. Moreover, the light-duty steel extends the transmission structures' lifespans and reduces maintenance work for BPA.

Transmission Services released BPA's original Wildfire Mitigation Plan in 2020. The plan is continuously evolving with new methods and safety measures. In June, Transmission Services updated theplan with an added public safety power shutoff proceduredesigned to further protect homes, businesses and property from the devastating effects of wildfires.Read the Wildfire Mitigation Planto learn more about BPA's ongoing efforts.

View this mapto stay aware of wildfire activity near you.