Bluebird-Garden Springs 230 kV West Plains Transmission Line Project
Avista owns and operates a system of over 2,200 miles of electric transmission facilities. As we plan for the future, we forecast how much power we will need to serve all our customers and how that power will get there safely and reliably. Sometimes that means extending our transmission facilities and lines.
The Bluebird to Garden Springs 230 kV West Plains Transmission Line Project is part of an overall effort to increase the capacity and reliability of Avista’s 230 kV transmission system. The bulk of Avista’s 230 kV transmission system was constructed in the late 1950’s and 1960’s after the completion of Cabinet Gorge and Noxon Rapids Dams located on the Clark Fork River. Subsequent efforts in the late 1970’s, 1980’s, and 2000’s completed the 230 kV transmission construction.
The area between Bluebird Substation and Garden Springs Substation has diverse terrain—urban, forests, wetlands, and farmland. Most of it is privately owned. There will be an extensive public process to finalize the new route for this project. The route shown below is an example of a potential route but is being considered amongst several alternative routes.
How will a new route be decided?
Avista has formed a team of subject matter experts familiar with 230 kV line design, environmental review and permitting, public process and information, and rights-of-way acquisition. As a first step to this project, Avista representatives are conducting environmental and structure location surveys to help identify the option(s) that will be least impactful to the surrounding area. Utilizing this information and the feedback from the community during the open houses Avista will determine the final route.
How can I participate?
Avista encourages you to participate in this transmission line upgrade process. Input concerning the line route and transmission line appearance is appreciated and will be considered in the final design.
When are the open houses?
Avista will be hosting public open houses to discuss the specifics of this project.
- September 20th from 5pm to 7pm:
Airway Heights Recreation Center
11405 W. Deno Road, Spokane, WA 99224
- September 21st from 5pm to 7pm:
Windsor Grange #980
4417 S Assembly Road, Spokane, WA 99224
About Transmission Poles
Avista will utilize single pole construction to carry (4) cables from substation to substation; (3) 230 kV conductors and (1) optical ground wire (OPGW) communication cable. The material type selected is self-weathering steel with a reddish-brown rusty patina finish. The pole sizes will vary from one section of the line to the next. Most poles will be between 80 feet to 120 feet out of the ground. Pole diameters will range from 2 feet to 7 feet in diameter depending on the angle or loading on the pole. Most of the poles will be in the smaller diameter range.
- Transmission Siting Review: Completed January 2024
- Preliminary Design: 2024
- Easement Acquisition Process: 2024
- Permitting and Design Begins: 2025
- Transmission Line Construction Beings: 2026
- Transmission Line Construction Complete: 2027
Through projects like this, Avista will be able to bring more power into the area. Other advantages include:
- Increased reliability for customers.
- Increased flexibility to deliver energy and reserve capacity.
- Provide a back-up resource to shift electrical loads when there is an outage, equipment failure, etc. which will help restore power more quickly.
- Provide the capacity to respond to future growth and energy demands.
The Need for Additional Line Capacity
Avista has not built new 230kV transmission lines in the Spokane area and West Plains since the early 1970s. Today, the growth of our region has left very little transmission capacity for continued growth or emergency situations.
What is the permitting process like?
Throughout the route selection process, the permitting requirements will become more defined and established as we narrow down the final route for the project. We will adhere to all federal, state, local, and environmental requirements as we move forward with this project and our final route.
How is the environmental impact considered?
While impacts cannot be avoided, we have looked extensively into how they can be minimized. We have identified critical areas between Bluebird Substation to Garden Springs Substation that we would like to avoid entirely. We have also identified preferred corridors that would require the least amount of site disturbance.
When analyzing possible routes, all types of environmental factors, including but not limited to current land use, water bodies (wetlands, rivers, lakes, ponds, etc.), critical habitat, floodplains, and geologically hazardous areas, were considered.
Once a final route is confirmed, we will take a closer look at how impacts can be further reduced. Where possible, the transmission line may be able to span over sensitive areas or shift slightly to avoid them completely.
For more information, email WestPlains230kV@avistacorp.com.