New Grant PUD line under construction

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Courtesy photo The construction phase of a project to build a new power line between Rocky Ford and Moses Lake should be finished by the end of the year. The line will go into in fall 2018.

EPHRATA — All the electrical poles currently being installed along SR 17 between Rocky Ford and Moses Lake should in place by the end of 2017. However, the line won’t go into operation for about a year.

Grant PUD commissioners received an update on the project at the regular meeting Tuesday. The Rocky Ford line is one of two major electrical system projects currently underway, said Randy Kono, PUD electrical engineer.

Currently the poles are going up along SR 17. “A lot of big sticks being put in the ground,” Kono said.

“How much does each of those big sticks cost?” asked commissioner Larry Schaapman. Kono said the laminated wood poles are about $10,000 to $15,000 each.

The second project is a transmission line at the Quincy Plains substation. Both are designed to upgrade and expand the existing system, Kono said.

The line between the Rocky Ford and Dover substations is being installed “to meet load growth in the Moses Lake area,” Kono said. Currently five substations serve that area, one providing electricity to the other four. If that one substation breaks down, currently there’s no way to get electricity to the other four, Kono said. The new line will fix that.

Total project cost will be about $8 million, Kono said. The winning bid for the pole-setting part of the project was $2,602,334. About $2.8 million will be spent on materials, he said.

The PUD did have to pay an additional $338,133 for transmission wire to replace some that was damaged. Damaged wire is a problem, Kono said, because “they (damaged wires) cause a phenomenon called corona. Corona is bad,” he said. Corona discharges can damage nearby equipment and release gases that can be harmful to humans.

The contract specifies that the poles should be installed by Dec. 22. The line actually won’t start transmitting electricity until fall 2018. Some work is required at the Rocky Ford substation before the lines can go into service, Kono said.

The Quincy Plains project will provide electricity to substations that serve the large industrial customers along Road 11 Northwest. Total project cost is about $3 million, Kono said. The contract to build the line was $896,445.

“There was a plan to energize the Quincy Plains (line) on Saturday (Oct. 7),” Kono said. However, “there was a wind advisory issued on Saturday,” and the wind was blowing so hard the project was delayed. Utility district officials are talking with the customers who will be served by the line to determine a new service date, he said.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at

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