New line powers growth, dependability and public safety in Beaver County

Amy Joi O’Donoghue – Deseret News

The head of the Utah Bureau of Land Management and the president of Rocky Mountain Power took part in a celebratory signing ceremony Monday marking construction of a critical energy transmission line.

The event featuring Juan Palma and Richard Walje at the Milford City Offices marks start of a project to put in the new Cameron to Milford 138,000-volt line to shore up vulnerabilities in the grid and more than double existing capacity that has long been overwhelmed.

Bemoaned as one of the poorest performing power systems in the state, the electrical load in west Beaver County and Milford has experienced more than 3 million customer minutes lost in a three-year period, according to an environmental analysis performed by the Bureau of Land Management.

PacifiCorp ties into the geothermal source of power at the Blundell plant, which fluctuates and impacts the amount of energy available to customers in that area. When additional generation from Blundell is not available, the result is outages to customers. In 2008, for example, there were 17 outages lasting 431 hours.

Officials estimate that the unreliability of the system zaps 2,000 households of about 500 minutes, or more than eight hours of power per year, leading to concerns over public safety.

The existing line can provide about 21.1 megawatts of energy without tying into Blundell, but during irrigation season, demand outstripped supply five months out of the year in 2008.

The analysis says the system is being stretched beyond its capacity, with existing customers using 26 percent more electricity than they did 20 years ago.

Industrial customers can’t take their full, contracted load of power without jeopardizing the system in western Beaver County, the analysis says. (…)

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