Central Oregon Daily$250 million federal investment to improve Warm Springs energy grid

$250 million federal investment to improve Warm Springs energy grid

0 million federal investment to improve Warm Springs energy grid

Warm Springs PGE Pelton Round Butte

The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and Portland General Electric announced they have received $250 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to upgrade the energy grid in Warm Springs.

The Tribe and PGE have been in a partnership for years.

The new investment means more jobs for the people in Warm Springs and more opportunity for renewable energy in other parts of the state.

“And effectively bring renewable energy from Central Oregon here on the reservation lands over into Portland, where load growth is is happening very quickly. And as we decarbonize, we need more of those renewables,” said Larry Bekkedahl, PGE Senior Vice President.

The construction of this new project will take a few years. Right now, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and PGE are still in the permitting process.

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Here is the full release from PGE:

MADRAS, Ore. (Dec. 1, 2023) — The Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon (CTWS), alongside Portland General Electric (PGE), hosted Tribal, utility, national and state energy leaders at the Pelton Round Butte Hydropower Project in Madras today to celebrate the launch of their partnership to complete a major transmission upgrade in Oregon

In October, CTWS was selected to receive a $250 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to help upgrade the 230 kV Bethel-Round Butte transmission line – a crucial artery in the region’s transmission system. This infrastructure enhancement will unlock renewable energy potential on the Warm Springs Reservation and bring revenue to historically underserved communities, while connecting resources east of the Cascades to customers in the Willamette Valley. Funding for the upgrade was awarded through the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) program – an unprecedented $10.5 billion investment from the federal government in initiatives that enhance grid flexibility and resilience in the face of growing threats from climate change.

“Lack of transmission access has been a chronic obstacle in achieving our renewable goals. That brings us to today, and the significant opportunity promoted by the U.S. Department of Energy,” said Jonathan Smith, CTWS Tribal Chairman. “We believe the GRIP grant was tailor-made for our unique partnership, our mutual goals in the pursuit of renewable energy, and the desire to create economic benefits for Tribal communities.”

Festivities in Madras this morning began with a blessing from the Warm Springs Tribal Council, followed by remarks in support of this endeavor, offered by leaders from Warm Springs Power & Water Enterprises, PGE and the U.S. Department of Energy.

“Thank you to the leaders of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs, the U.S. Department of Energy, and all the state, labor, and community partners who worked together in close partnership to make today possible. Expanding transmission capacity is essential to keeping power reliable and affordable as we transition to a clean energy future,” said Maria Pope, PGE President & CEO. “PGE is honored to deepen our decades-long partnership with the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs, enabling tremendous opportunities for renewable clean energy development.”

Increasing the line’s capacity will help meet growing electrical demand from customers in PGE’s service area, which contains about half of Oregon’s population and two thirds of the state’s commercial and industrial activity. 

“The DOE selected this project because it commits to clean energy development with the integration of indigenous knowledge and traditional ecological wisdom into the project design,” said Kristen Frick, Project Manager for the Grid Innovation Program at U.S. DOE. “It includes tribal leadership in stakeholder decision-making discussions, and creates good paying, local union jobs as well as offering workforce development and mentorship programs.”

Today’s celebration was the first milestone in a lengthy process that will include environmental and scoping studies, design, permitting and construction. Throughout the upgrade, CTWS and PGE will work closely with partners, landowners, and other jurisdictions to make this project a reality.

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