Undersea cable project delayed

PORT ANGELES, WASHINGTON - A company proposing a high-voltage power cable between Victoria and Port Angeles has received two more permits.

But the project's anticipated completion date has moved from August 2009 to mid-2010, said Paul Manson, president of Sea Breeze Power Corp., one of the partners.

"It's an 18-month manufacturing and construction cycle," he said. "We still have to complete the design and financing.

"There's indications there will be commercial contracts this year, but I don't want to nail down dates yet."

Sea Breeze Pacific Juan de Fuca Cable LP, a partnership that includes Sea Breeze Power Corp., wants to build a 550-megawatt high-voltage direct current light transmission cable to deliver wind-generated electricity from Vancouver Island to Port Angeles.

The cable would be built underneath the Strait of Juan de Fuca at an estimated cost of $750 million.

High voltage direct current light is a variation of high voltage direct current that is being used in cables already in the Strait.

The federal Department of Energy awarded a presidential permit to the project recently.

The permit is required to build an electric transmission line across the U.S. border.

It requires an assessment of the project's potential impacts on both the environment and the reliability of the U.S. electric transmission system, Manson said.

It is equivalent to the Canadian National Energy Board's certificate of public convenience and necessity that was awarded in September 2006.

Bonneville Power Administration spokesman Doug Johnson said the company also received a record of decision that permits the connection of the Juan de Fuca Cable project into the region's power grid.

The 550-megawatt transmission line — one megawatt is enough to power about 625 homes — would extend from View Royal on Portage Inlet near Victoria to the Bonneville Power Administration's substation at Park Avenue and Porter Street, just west of the Peninsula College's Port Angeles campus.

The company itself wouldn't generate power, but instead would lease capacity on the line to power generators on both sides of the border.

Manson said the project's permitting is effectively completed in the U.S., and that only minor federal permits remain on the Canadian side.

Technical studies of how the new line would affect Bonneville's power grid are complete, he said.

Similar studies being done by British Columbia Transmission Corporation at a cost of $250,000 are due in August, Manson said.

The engineering, procurement and construction contract with ABB Cable, the British company that designs, manufactures and lays the cable, is ready, but it awaits completion of a marine survey of the floor of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, he said.

"The last one is really a tough nut to crack," Manson said.

"It's the commercial contract."

"We've done exhaustive internal studies, and believe the project would provide benefits to the region," he said.

The Blaine intertie carries 90 percent of the power traveling between Canada and Bonneville's power grid, and the next large one is located in Minnesota, Manson said.

The Juan de Fuca Cable would provide another pathway for that transmission.

"There are also benefits beyond just increasing the capacity. There's also the reliability," Manson said.

The existing power grid is a "backwards C" — its gap being between Victoria and Port Angeles, he said.

The Juan de Fuca Cable project would create a circle, which is the best shape for an electrical transmission system because power can be rerouted if there's a break, Manson said.

If it's a straight or "radial" system, then it just stops at one point and there's nowhere to reroute if the line breaks, he said.

Radial power lines also have technical problems that become more frequent the farther away they are from the power source, Manson said.

Connecting the new line into Bonneville's power grid would require expansion of the existing Bonneville substation located on Lauridsen Boulevard near Peninsula College.

But when that might happen is unknown.

"The details still need to be worked out," Johnson said.

"No target date has been determined for interconnection at Port Angeles."

Schedules for cable construction and for modifying the substation must be coordinated.

"We will notify affected residents before any work begins," he said.

The company also needs to lease Clallam County Public Utility District property south of Bonneville's substation for a converter station that would take about seven months to build.

It would convert the direct current from the cable to alternating current and connect the system to Bonneville's power grid.

Clallam PUD General Manager Doug Nass said that the district had an appraisal done of its property that the company would need to lease, but that he hasn't heard anything lately.

"So we're waiting on them," he said.

"They are wanting to meet with us soon, but no date has been set yet."

Port Angeles Public Works Director Glenn Cutler said last week he also planned to meet with Sea Breeze officials to discuss the project.


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