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Power grid test bed expansion wins approval

A final environmental impact statement will clear the way for an expansion of the power grid testbed at the Idaho National Laboratory.

A US Department of Energy (DOE) study found the expansion would have no significant environmental impact. The testbed has been operating for more than 10 years, supporting research, development and testing activities to protect the U.S. electrical grid.

The DOE finding will allow construction of a new 16.5 mile, 138-kilovolt overhead electric line at the 890-square-mile INL site. It will include approximately 300 power poles built alongside an existing transmission line. It will run from INL’s Central Facilities Area through the Critical Infrastructure Test Range Complex and end and the Materials and Fuels Complex.

The project will provide uninterrupted power for INL facilities. Right now, researchers must disable and isolate an existing power line in order to conduct their work. The dedicated transmission line will free up facilities for energized electrical power grid experiments and testing.

Fencing will be expanded around a nearby substation to support larger equipment necessary for the addition of the power line. Several gravel test pads along the path of the transmission line will be constructed or modified to support testing of power grid equipment, including diesel generators, transformers, circuit breakers, switchgear, load banks, instrumentation, and battery trailers.

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