The new Quenett Creek Substation project is powered up and in operation at the Port of The Dalles, increasing the amount of electrical power available throughout the region.
Representatives from Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), Northern Wasco People’s Utility District, the Port of The Dalles, Wasco County and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation gathered Thursday, June 13, to dedicate the substation, located just west of Chenowith Creek near the third Google data center under construction in The Dalles.
The name “Quenett” is derived from the word meaning “salmon trout,” or steelhead, and is also the original name of a nearby creek, according to the BPA.
“This project is central to everything we are trying to accomplish in the region,” said Elliot Mainzer, CEO of BPA. “We are bringing in the new, while honoring the old.” He said the BPA had partnered with the Confederate Tribes of the Umatilla in siting the project as they sought to address the combined needs of economic strength, and environmental and cultural stewardship.
“We are sustaining older infrastructure and building new infrastructure that is able to attract organizations that need a reliable, modern power supply,” he said.
The project was undertaken in response to a request from Northern Wasco PUD to serve the significant electrical load growth in the area, including the addition of a third Google data center adjacent to the project.
The new 300-megawatts substation will increase available power load in The Dalles, Dallesport, Dufur, Tygh Valley, Lyle, Hood River, Fossil, Cascade Locks, Goldendale and other rural communities in the area, according to the BPA.
Construction of the new substation also required upgrades to the Big Eddy substation in the Columbia View Heights area and the Chenoweth substation west of Chenowith Creek.
The project began in January, 2018. The BPA contracted with Burns & McDonnell on the project, which incorporated BPA carpenters, plumbing, electrical, and transmission line and control house construction crews, with additional BPA support in engineering, environment and cultural coordination, as well as in geotechnical, survey and other areas.
At the height of the construction activity, at least 60 craft and technical staff were working on the project, according to the project summary by the BPA.
Mainzer noted the project had a perfect safety record, with no reportable injuries during the 70,000 working hours put in by the BPA and contractors.
Roger Kline, general manager of Northern Wasco PUD, thanked his staff for making the collaboration with BPA work. “This partnership couldn’t have happened without you,” he said. “We are fortunate to have this resource.”
Scott Hege, a Wasco County Commissioner, noted that the completion of the substation marked “a great day for The Dalles, Wasco County, and the entire region.” He noted that the old Chenoweth substation, located nearby, had powered the aluminum plant. “The aluminum industry built this town, on the old power system,” he said. The new substation will offer even greater electrical capacity, and inspire even greater growth in the region, he said.
“Without infrastructure like this, you won’t see any serious economic development here,” Hege said. “This investment is going to be here for a long time. This project is new, it’s impressive, it’s shiny—and it’s very powerful.”