Northwest electric customers to save millions with state-of-the-art recycling program


The Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) innovative approach to recycling saved Pacific Northwest electric ratepayers nearly $3 million in 2018, according to a press release. 

The agency’s sustainability efforts, ranging from recycling transmission conductors and tower parts to auctioning off used equipment, are winning national sustainability awards. 

One of the BPA’s approaches to recycling includes the use of a machine known as a linear chopper. The device uses magnets to separate the aluminum and steel components used in high-voltage conductor wire. The agency owns about 15,000 miles of transmission line across the West. 

Once the used line is fed into the chopper, bits of steel and aluminum are separated and spewed out on opposite sides of the machine. The metal is then sent to regional smelters. Since spring of 2018, the machine has recovered more than 375 tons of aluminum valued around $700,000. 

“Our sustainability efforts go hand-in-hand with our commitment to being responsible stewards of the environment and accountable to our ratepayers,” BPA’s Chief Administrative Officer Robin Furrer said in a news release. “We recover approximately 90 percent of our used materials, so we throw away very little.”

Along with the chopper, other recycling efforts include auctioning off used equipment, recycling components from computers and donating used furniture. In 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency honored BPA with the Federal Green Challenge Materials Management Award. The EPA is honoring BPA again in 2019 for its outstanding sustainability efforts and care for the environment.


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