The US Bureau of Reclamation has awarded a $4M design and construction contract to Burke Electric to replace a 30-year-old relay system that protects and monitors high voltage power lines linked to Grand Coulee Dam's generators and switchyards.

The Bonneville Power Administration is funding the project which includes installing a new relay system for seven transmission lines between the 500kV and 230kV switchyards and Grand Coulee Dam’s Third Powerplant. Work also includes furnishing and installing several miles of fiber optic cable for relay communications between the switchyards and power plants.

“Upgrading these transmission lines is essential to improving our infrastructure at Grand Coulee Dam and sustaining a steady supply of hydroelectricity throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond,” Commissioner Michael L. Connor said. “This investment to modernize one of the nation’s key renewable energy facilities will also bring jobs and an infusion of new dollars for the local economy.”

Construction will begin this year and will be completed in 2014.

Grand Coulee Dam, completed in 1941, it is a multi-purpose facility and a key feature of USBR’s Columbia Basin Project. Power facilities at Grand Coulee Dam include 33 generators in three power plants, a pumping plant and three switchyards.