Neighbors, local government officials and Western representatives gathered around a large map during workshop meetings, Oct. 2 to 4, where they discussed options for an upgrade to combine two transmission lines into one right of way. Both lines feed the Town of Estes and other nearby communities in Colorado with energy.
Drawing alternative routes with colored markers, neighbors talked about how different paths for the power line could impact the environment, their neighbors and the scenic views of their town and surrounding national forests. For some participants, it was an educational experience in the complexity of differing views and issues that came up regarding their ideas.
The collective thoughts and considerations of these engaged citizens will help Western Area Power Administration determine the alternatives it will review in its draft environmental impact statement for the Estes-Flatiron Transmission Line Rebuild Project.
Western is preparing to analyze how different alternatives for rebuilding or maintaining the transmission system will provide reliable power and impact the environment, landowners and surrounding communities. With high public interest for this project, Western extended the scoping period through Oct. 19 to work with the local communities to:
- Identify transmission line route options
- Gather input on design/structure features
- Understand the many issues and impacts with any alternative route
If you would like to provide input on route alternatives or structure design, take the time to examine the scoping and alternative development materials and reply to Western by Oct. 19. The input will help Western and cooperating agencies identify alternatives to be analyzed in the draft environmental impact statement.
Western’s linemen keep the agencies transmission lines and structures maintained so the system can reliably deliver electricity to cities and towns throughout the West. Sometimes this job requires Western to de-energize a line for maintenance of the line or working going on below the transmission line.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Todd Plain snapped this photo of Western linemen de-energizing the high-voltage power line at dusk for the safety of the workers below. Construction crews worked during the night constructing the seepage cutoff wall (part of the American River levees) underneath the line. This is part of the Corps American River Common Features project, a joint flood risk reduction effort between the Corps, the state’s Central Valley Flood Protection Board/Department of Water Resources and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency.
(Photo belongs to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Sacramento District. Full picture description available on the USACE-Sacramento District’s Flickr photostream.)
Some Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Colorado youth and mentors were literally shocked while learning about the electrifying world of energy Aug. 11.
Participants, like this pair, had their pictures taken with an infrared camera during the Big Brothers and Big Sisters event focused on electricity, Aug. 11
Several Western Area Power Administration employees volunteered their time to provide participants with an understanding about how electricity travels from where it is generated to homes and businesses. “Watching participants learn new things about electricity and energy; and seeing them connect with how they can make simple choices that conserve energy is exciting,” said Energy Services Equipment Loan Program Manager Gary Hoffmann.
In just a little more than two hours, participants learn about money and energy-saving tips for their homes as well as for industry buildings; and took some time to investigate fuel-cell technology, understand different lighting options and ‘see’ heat using an infrared camera. They also had the opportunity to see a Tesla Coil and watch a fluorescent lamp light up in their hands.
One highlight of the event was the Van de Graaff generator where youth and mentors learned about static electricity and had the opportunity to share the electric charge and shock each other. Through the fun, hands-on event, participants learned first-hand how electricity works, its uses and also its dangers.
“We were all very excited about the success of the day. The kids and mentors loved learning about electricity in a hands-on way and were amazed by the various tools and toys Western shared,” added Program and Fund Development Intern Laura Newman, who organized the event. “Many of the kids left the event, infrared pictures of their match [mentor and youth] in hand, discussing how to do more and learn more about energy and science. Every match said they were interested in participating in more events like this.”
In the end, participants walked away charged up and ready to save energy. Some of those solutions include:
- Turn off appliances when you’re not using them, including lights, computers, gaming consoles, TVs and radios.
- Unplug chargers when not in use—charging devices can draw power even when they aren’t attached to a battery.
- Close the refrigerator door quickly after you find a snack.
- Keep doors, windows and curtains closed on very hot and very cold days.
- Dress for the weather.
- Set your thermostat at 78 degrees in the summer and no higher than 68 degrees in the winter.
- Seal leaks around windows, doors and heating ducts.
- Air-dry clothes.
The Department of Energy and Western Joint Outreach Team finished the final two of six public workshops and listening sessions the week of July 30 to define Western’s role in transitioning the grid to a flexible, reliable system worthy of the 21st century.
But the team is still accepting comments through Aug. 17 for stakeholders and Aug. 24 for Native American Tribes as part of the public scoping process for this effort. Some comments submitted are already available for viewing on Western’s website. To get your comment in, email JOT@wapa.gov with your name, organizational affiliation and your thoughts.
The team will take the oral and written comments and ideas generated in the workshops and submitted via email to draft recommendations for public comment sometime this fall.
Here are some photos from the Aug. 2 meeting in Sioux Falls, S.D.
In an effort to determine how best to improve operations and transmission services process and activities, Western’s Senior Management Team decided to take a look at the agency’s operations in Summer 2011.
During the last year, Miracorp–an independent consultant–evaluated Western’s current power system operations and provide alternatives to consider as the agency strives to operate efficiently and effectively in a dynamically changing environment.
Miracorp released the Operations Study Report Aug. 2,(pdf) without input or comment from Western.
Western and DOE are hosting a webinar to kick off the public involvement and stakeholder process in our “Defining the Future” Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to achieve a more secure and sustainable electric sector in the United States.
Already Western has publicized it’s progress toward the objectives in Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu’s memo to the power marketing administrations.
Now during the webinar, participants can see the workshop and listening session formats, directions on how to access read-ahead material, a preview of information that will be presented during the workshops and a summary of the process for stakeholder participation during workshops and listening sessions.
So join us for:
Pre-workshop Webinar: “Defining the Future” Initiative
Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 1 p.m. (EDT)
Register for the webinar online
NaturEner reported it completed installation of 11 turbines as of July 3 on the southwest part of the Rim Rock Wind Farm, Mont.
Several stakeholders, including Western representatives, toured the Rim Rock site the last week of June to see the construction progress. The wind farm will be interconnected through the Montana-Alberta Tie Limited transmission line project.
You can see additional photos and read more about the project’s construction and environmental progress on NaturEner’s website.
As a result of numerous requests, the Bureau of Land Management is extended the scoping period for the proposed Southline Transmission Line Project. The scoping period, which was scheduled to end June 4, has been extended to end July 5. Western is a co-lead agency on the environmental impact statement.
The Southline Transmission Project would collect and deliver electricity across southern New Mexico and southern Arizona, relieving congestion, strengthening the existing electrical system and improving transmission access for local renewable and other energy sources.
Learn more about the project on BLM’s webpage.
Western received 20 customer responses to a request for interest in the purchase of renewable energy generated by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s proposed 99-megawatt Tate Topa Wind Energy Project located on the tribe’s reservation.
The goal of the request, which closed May 11, was to get interested purchasers and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe talking. “Because it was more about finding out who might be interested, not all 20 requests specified an amount of energy they were interested in purchasing,” explained Public Utilities Specialist Georganne Myers. “However, those that made specific requests totaled approximately 143,000 megawatt-hours annually for contract terms of between 10 and 20 years.”
The Bureau of Reclamation held a ribbon-cutting ceremonyfor the recently completed Delta Mendota Canal Intertie project, May 2. Western’s Sierra Nevada region constructed a new transmission line to provide critical project use power.
The new 4.7-mile, 69-kilovolt transmission line near Tracy, Calif., was energized March 14 and powers Reclamation’s pumping plant, which is needed to propel water through the concrete pipes. The line connects to an existing Western 69-kV line in Contra Costa County.
You can read more about the transmission line project or see Reclamation’s news release and photos from the May 2 event.