Feb 7 Swiss-Swedish multinational engineering
company ABB Ltd won an order worth around $260 million
from the U.S.-owned Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to
upgrade a major power transmission station in Oregon.
The Celilo high voltage direct current (HVDC) converter
station, located near the Columbia River, is an important part
of the electricity link between the Pacific Northwest and
Southern California that was commissioned more than 40 years ago
in 1970, ABB said in a statement Wednesday.
The Celilo converter is located at the north end of the
Pacific DC Intertie, also known as Path 65, which has a capacity
of 3,100 megawatts (MW). The Pacific Intertie runs south about
850 miles (1,367 kilometers) to the Sylmar converter station
north of Los Angeles.
The Pacific DC transmits electricity from the Pacific
Northwest to as many as 3 million households in the greater Los
ABB said key components of the station upgrade include
valves, controls and transformers as well as switchgear and
cooling equipment. ABB already carried out a similar upgrade of
the Sylmar converter station in 2004.
In addition to modernizing the converter, ABB said the
upgrade will make it feasible to boost capacity up to 3,800 MW.
That extra power could help Southern California keep the
lights on in future years should the San Onofre nuclear plant
remain shut due to problems with new steam generators. Both San
Onofre reactors have been shut since January 2012.
Southern California Edison, a unit of Edison International
and the operator of San Onofre, hopes federal nuclear
regulators over the next few months approve the company's plan
to return one of the reactors at less than full power.
During the winter, the north consumes a lot of power for
heating while the south requires less; but in the summer, demand
is reversed, with more power needed in the south for cooling.
The Pacific Intertie allows power to flow between the Northwest
and Southern California to help balance supply with demand.
ABB said it booked the order in the fourth quarter of 2012.
BPA is the part of the U.S. Department of Energy that
markets wholesale power from federal hydro projects in the
Columbia River Basin with a combined capacity of over 20,400 MW
and the nonfederal 1,097-MW Columbia nuclear plant in Washington
The federal dams are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The nuclear plant
is operated by public power company Energy Northwest.
About a third of the power used in the Northwest comes from
BPA also operates about three-fourths of the high-voltage
transmission in its territory, which includes Idaho, Oregon,
Washington and parts of Montana, California, Nevada, Utah and