Clallam PUD seeking faster solution for West End outages

County commissioners, coalition support idea of expanded right of way

PORT ANGELES — Clallam PUD is asking the Bonneville Power Administration to expand the PUD’s current 100-foot right of way along the Port Angeles-Sappho transmission line, saying it has a “legal and moral obligation” to reliably serve West End residents and businesses.

The Clallam County commissioners unanimously approved a letter of support for the effort at their Monday work session.

County Administrator Todd Mielke said the right-of-way extension would allow Clallam PUD crews to begin clearing downed trees from the line without waiting for a BPA crew to drive north from Shelton or Olympia. That can take four or five hours before an assessment of its 115-kilovolt (kV) transmission line can be done, let alone any repair work, he said.

Other support letters from a group calling itself the West End Coalition have come from Peninsula College, Clallam Economic Development Council, state Sen. Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, North Olympic Peninsula Resource Conservation and Development Council, the City of Forks and Forks Community Hospital.

Meilke said the expansion also would allow maintenance workers to cut back excess vegetation, preventing outages and making repairs go faster. It isn’t a second transmission line, which is what the area needs, but it is perceived as the best option for now, he said.

“We have had a few discussions about that as a potential mitigation measure,” BPA spokesman Doug Johnson said Friday. “This could help protect the line from off right-of-way trees falling into it. We have no planning or specifics, but we have talked about it.”

County Commissioner Mike French said he supported the coalition’s two-pronged approach of seeking to expand the right of way and lobbying for a second transmission line to the West End.

County Commissioner Mark Ozias said more aggressive engagement with BPA is necessary for both expanding the right of way and getting a second transmission line. This letter is just indicating BPA has an obligation to reliably serve the West End, he said.

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Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached by email at brian.gawley@peninsuladailynews.com.

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