Heat Wave Blackouts Avoided, Transmission Improvements Needed

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Dear Members,

To say June 29 was a hot day is an understatement. With temperatures hitting 115 degrees, all our air conditioners put a strain on the Bonneville Power Administration’s capacity to deliver electricity into the Tri-Cities.

Benton REA does not own transmission lines, which are the high-voltage power lines that bring electricity from the generation source—such as the hydroelectric dams—to Benton REA’s substations. The wholesale power we buy travels along BPA’s transmission lines.

Like a freeway at rush hour when only so many cars can travel without causing a traffic jam, transmission lines can only deliver so much electricity at one time. When the demand in the Tri-Cities was expected to exceed the 1,250-megawatt capacity of their transmission lines, BPA warned to the Tri-Cities utilities that BPA may need to shed load to avoid an overload that could cause damage to its equipment and a large-scale power outage.

Benton REA had no control over this decision. Thankfully Benton REA members were not without power during the hottest day of the year. Thank you to all the members who responded when we asked you to conserve energy by doing things such as turning up your thermostats.

On June 28, BPA posted to its Facebook page, “With record-breaking heat across the region, hydropower operators are balancing the Northwest grid to ensure that increased energy demand from all those air conditioners is met with a constant supply of energy.”

On the hottest day of the year, we are thankful we had adequate generation from hydropower. But that power almost did not get to us. Benton REA, along with our neighboring utilities, is working with BPA to upgrade the BPA transmission infrastructure to the Tri-Cities to reduce the chance of this happening again.

Ownership Credit Payments Headed Your Way

The Benton REA Board of Trustees approved the payment in 2021 of $1,754,622 in ownership credits to Benton REA members.

Members who chose to receive their payment as a bill credit will see it on their August statement. Checks will be mailed around August 12. Thank you to the many members who donated their 2021 payments to Benton REA’s Power to Care bill assistance program and to the Education Fund. More information about ownership credit payments is on page 25. Paying out your ownership credits to you is one of the unique aspects of belonging to an electric cooperative. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to be your electric energy service provider!


Michael J. Bradshaw signature

Michael J. Bradshaw

General Manager

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