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Utilities To Tap Stimulus Funds For New ‘Smart Grid’ Projects

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Two large government-owned utilities have announced that they will use some of the funding in the president’s $787-billion stimulus package to move forward with "smart grid" transmission projects. Portland, Ore.-based Bonneville Power Administration announced Feb. 19 that it would move forward with a $246-million, 500-kV transmission line that will provide more than 870 Mw of energy, including 700 Mw of wind capacity. Work on the project begins this spring and is expected at its peak to create 700 jobs. Lakewood, Colo.-based Western Area Power Administration also plans to build "smart" transmission lines, although it has not yet identified any specific projects, says Theresa Williams, a WAPA spokeswoman. WAPA plans to publish notices outlining how projects will be selected and encouraging developers to apply. The utilities say they are able to build the new transmission lines because of the stimulus package. The final stimulus bill allocated $11 billion for smart-grid projects.

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