T&D World Magazine
Avista Begins Work on New Noxon Switchyard

Avista Begins Work on New Noxon Switchyard

Economy, recreationalists, visitors and power system all benefit from multi-year project.

Avista has begun a 5-year relocation project at the Noxon Rapids Switchyard in Montana that, when complete, will update and increase the reliability and capacity of the 55-year-old facility and enhance its security.

An electrical switchyard, similar to a substation, is part of an electrical generation, transmission and distribution system that allows for switching between many transmission lines. From the generating station to the consumer, electric power may flow through several switchyards and substations.

The existing switchyard at Noxon, which is located near the dam where power is generated (pictured to the right), is not large enough for the required upgrades for reliability and capacity, so relocation is necessary for this project.

  • Beyond the switchyard upgrades, visitors and recreationalists of the area will reap many benefits from this project too! These include:
  • The new South Shore access road to the boat launch and recreation area will be improved and shortened, with a more scenic route.
  • The South Shore area will receive updates and better access to camping sites to accommodate larger trailers.

In conjunction with the switchyard project a timber stand improvement project began which benefits the wildlife in the area as well as the health of the timber.

While the impact to the community should be minimal, the new switchyard location requires re-routing of all nine large transmissions lines that interconnect Noxon Dam, Avista and the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), creating a need for increased security and safety. In the past, the land was used by a handful of people, but will now be fenced off as a public safety measure near and around the facility. Avista owns almost 4,000 acres around the Clark Fork hydro projects that is open for conservation and recreation use, unless otherwise posted.

“Public safety and protecting the surrounding environment are Avista’s top priorities as we complete this work,” said Tim Swant, Clark Fork License Manager for Avista.

Local contractors such as Sorlie Excavating, Stover General Contracting, Quenten Jensen Excavation, Stephens Timber Consulting, Jenson Logging, Taylor Construction, and Noble Excavating have all been engaged in this project, bringing economic benefit to the community with over $930,000 invested in the project to-date.

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