Mazama, Winthrop still relying on existing Loup line
By Marcy Stamper
Although the new Pateros-Twisp transmission line has been providing power to the Methow Valley since last week, customers of the Okanogan County Electric Co-operative in Winthrop and Mazama will have to wait until next year until they’re served by the new line.
The new transmission line will be rerouted and connected to its own breaker in the Twisp substation, said David Gottula, the co-op’s general manager. Until then, most co-op customers are still being served by the old powerline that comes across the Loup, which like the new one is operated by the Okanogan County Public Utility District (PUD).
About ¼-mile above the Twisp substation, the Loup Loup line connects directly to another transmission line that serves Winthrop, said Gottula.
“The line being built by the PUD is super-awesome — it’s a huge step forward,” said Gottula. “The PUD looks at it as a touchdown, but to the co-op, it’s like we’re on the 10-yard line. We’re real close.”
The transmission line that connects Winthrop to Twisp is owned by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), which will work with the PUD to link the co-op’s service to the new route next year. The long-term plan is to break the existing connection and bring the Winthrop line directly to a breaker at the Twisp substation, said Gottula.
Ultimately, the PUD’s new transmission line will provide a completely looped system — linking Okanogan to Pateros to Twisp to Okanogan. It will automatically reroute the load in the event of an outage, said Gottula.
But until the permanent connection is made in the Twisp substation, if there’s an outage on the Loup line, Winthrop and Mazama won’t have power, said Gottula. He expects the work can be completed by next summer.
If there were a serious outage of at least several days, with the new Pateros-Twisp line there is the ability for technicians to reroute power by cutting jumpers and reconnecting the lines to supply Winthrop and Mazama, said Gottula.
The PUD energized the Pateros-Twisp transmission line last week and had said that having it online meant that none of the power to the Methow Valley was being supplied by the Loup Loup line, as the Methow Valley News reported. While the feed to Twisp and the lower valley has been switched to the new line, Winthrop and Mazama still rely on the 69-year-old powerline over the Loup.