WARM SPRINGS, Ore. (Oct. 18, 2023) — The Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon (CTWS) was selected to receive a $250 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to help advance vital transmission upgrades. CTWS submitted the grant application to DOE, in partnership with Portland General Electric, as part of the Grid Resilience Innovative Partnerships Program (GRIP) open to Tribes. This significant investment in the reliability of Oregon’s clean energy infrastructure will enable enhancements to the existing 230 kV Bethel-Round Butte transmission line – a crucial artery in the region’s transmission system – connecting resources east of the Cascades, including on the Warm Springs Reservation, to customers in the Willamette Valley.
This innovative project will unlock a multitude of opportunities for the Tribes. New transmission capacity on the Warm Springs Reservation will enable the development of renewable infrastructure, accommodate new industrial development, create clean energy job opportunities, and bring revenue to historically underserved communities.
“This is a tremendous opportunity that will open the potential for renewable energy development on the CTWS Reservation to the economic benefit of the tribe and its membership,” said CTWS Tribal Chairman Jonathan Smith. “Upgrading the Bethel-Round Butte transmission line would serve to unlock access to renewable resources east of the Cascades to serve growing loads both east and west of the Cascades — and it further complements the long-standing partnership CTWS and PGE have had in the Pelton-Round Butte Hydroelectric Project.“
Increasing transmission capacity will also improve reliability and help meet growing electrical demand from customers in PGE’s service area, which includes about half of Oregon’s population and two thirds of the state’s commercial and industrial activity. Leveraging this grant, in addition to other federal funding opportunities, helps PGE manage customer prices while investing in resiliency and reliability.
“Expanding transmission capacity is essential to keeping power reliable and affordable as we transition to a clean energy future,” said Maria Pope, PGE president and CEO. “PGE is honored to deepen our decades long partnership with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, enabling tremendous new opportunities for renewable clean energy development.”
The Bethel-Round Butte transmission line was built in the 1960s in service to this valued partnership, delivering output from the Pelton-Round Butte hydropower facility to PGE customers. CTWS and PGE have been partners in this project, a certified low-impact hydro facility on the Deschutes River, since 2001, and look forward to continued collaboration.
Receiving the DOE grant is an exciting first step in a lengthy process that includes environmental and scoping studies, design, permitting and construction. Throughout the process, CTWS and PGE will work closely with partners, landowners, and other jurisdictions to make this project a reality.
Cathy Ehli, Warm Springs Power & Water Enterprises