See the latest proposed construction projects

Western is involved with many transmission projects throughout its 15-state territory. To ensure reliable service the system often needs upgrades, additions or other modifications. So in addition to maintenance of Western’s existing infrastructure, the agency often is involved with supporting or leading proposed construction projects to keep the bulk electrical system running smoothly.

You can learn more about several construction projects Western is currently involved in on our “Infrastructure projects” webpage.

As you click through the proposed upgrades, you will see Western’s strong commitment to complying with the National Environmental Protection Act. For nearly all  projects, we conduct environmental studies to determine the impact these infrastructure projects will have on the area’s land, habitat, water, endangered and protected species  and cultural and historical resources.

From our website you can see the proposed projects and construction planned for your local area to ensure the lights stay on in your home or business.

Students see inside hydropower operations

A group of students look past the camera to the power dispatch center

Twenty-three fellows participating in the Hydro Research Foundation Program take an inside look at power system operations at Western’s Sierra Nevada office in Folsom, Calif.

Understanding how water held behind large dams is converted to usable electricity for homes and business can be explained in many ways, but seeing the process in action can make all the difference.

Twenty-three students under the Hydro Research Foundation’s Fellowship program did just that July 18. As part of their week-long Hydro Vision International conference focused on “Clean Energy,” these fellows took a tour of Western Area Power Administration’s Sierra Nevada power dispatch center in California, as well as Bureau of Reclamation’s Folsom Dam and Reservoir. Employees from both agencies briefed participants on water, hydropower and power system and transmission operations.

Hydro Research Foundation Program Director Deborah Linke, a former Western employee, led the tour. Linke said, “The fellows are really neat—they’re bright, full of energy and have lots of good ideas.”

Hydro Research Foundation’s Fellows program, funded by a $3 million Department of Energy grant, encourages participants to seek advanced knowledge about hydroelectric technology, including ways to make it more efficient and limit the environmental impacts.

Learn more about hydropower
While not everyone has the time and energy to tour facilities to understand how hydropower works, reading about how it’s created and gets to your home can be very helpful. Western’s Harnessing Hydropower brochure (pdf) offers an overview of how generating agencies—like the Bureau of Reclamation—capture the energy of this natural resource that Western then markets to your local towns, cooperatives, public utilities and others that continue to power your computers, appliances and lights in your home or business.

Two Texas wind energy leaders win 2011 Public Power Award

(Note: Submitted to DOE’s blog by Western’s Renewable Energy Program Manager Randy Manion.)

With their successful and creative use of wind power, Texas’ CPS Energy and Denton Municipal Electric beat out 15 other nominees to win the 2011 Public Power Award on June 21, reported the Department of Energy’s blog.

The winners

The two energy providers won for their outstanding contributions in the industry, specifically:

CPS Energy, based in San Antonio, Texas, provides 10 percent of its total energy through its voluntary Windtricity program—and expects to increase this to 20 percent by 2020.

Denton Municipal Electric of Denton, Texas, purchased enough wind power—539,000 MWh—from the Wolf Ridge Wind Farm last fiscal year to power about 49,450 homes. In just one year, Denton’s purchase has reduced air pollution by preventing the release of 424,128 tons of carbon dioxide, 206 tons of nitrogen oxide and 1,257 tons of sulfur dioxide emissions.

The annual Public Power Award, sponsored by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Wind Powering America initiative and the American Public Power Association, recognizes public power utility companies at the forefront of developing America’s vast wind resources and providing affordable electricity to customers. The program is managed by Western’s Renewable Energy Program.

Purchasing credits to support renewable energy goals

Federal agencies continue to strive toward generating 80 percent of their electricity from clean energy sources by 2035. Supporting this effort are the sale and purchase transactions of Renewable Energy Certificates, or RECs.

Currently, Western’s Upper Great Plains Region is looking to purchase RECs, also known as “green tags,” for several Federal agencies through two different requests for proposals, including:

  • A joint request for 315,000 megawatt-hours of RECs over six years for DOE’s Richland Operations and Berkeley Site offices, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund Program. Bids due by July 1.
  • A request for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to provide 3,000 MWhs of RECs per year to its Golden Field Office Research Support facility and 629 MWhs of RECs per year to replace solar energy NREL sold to Xcel Energy. Bids due by July 8.

All offers must be for firm, fixed, per-MWh unit prices for each year of the contract term. Once bids have been received, Upper Great Plains will select proposals based on best value.

For more information about the request for proposals, visit Upper Great Plains Power Marketing for RECs website.

Desert Southwest proposes energy credit program for customers

Western’s Desert Southwest Region is seeking comments on its proposed program to make Federal renewable energy credits, or RECs, available to its customers.

DSW released details about the proposed program in a letter delivered to customers and through a new DSW REC website.

States across Western’s service territory are implementing Renewable Portfolio Standard requirements for “green” energy products.  While many of Western’s customers are not yet affected, such requirements continue to evolve and expand to affect more entities.  Federal agencies are already affected by the Federal RPS.  Greenhouse gas requirements are also becoming hot topics in legislatures across the country.

What are RECs?
RECs represent the environmental benefits of renewable energy, sold separately from power generation. This request on behalf of Federal agencies will help meet the government’s renewable energy goals.

Learn more about the proposed program, provide comments and find valuable links at the DSW REC website.

Sacramento sees more transmission line added, upgrades made

Western energized two new transmission line segments of the Sacramento Area Voltage Support Project, May 21, readying the line just in time for California’s summer season operations.

The 230-kilovolt line from O’Banion Substation in Sutter County to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s Elverta Substation in Sacramento County came online at about 11 a.m., followed by the 230-kV line from O’Banion Substation to SMUD’s Natomas Substation in Sacramento County at about 2 p.m.

See full news release for photos and more information about the project.

Western joined DOE’s tribal summit, May 4 & 5

Western Administrator Tim Meeks joined several other Department of Energy leaders for the May 4 and 5, 2011 DOE Tribal Summit.

The summit builds on the Department’s continued commitment to partner with Native Americans to support the development of clean energy projects on tribal lands that will help reduce energy use, limit carbon pollution, and create new jobs for tribal communities across the country.

Participants—whether live at the event or joining through the streamed video—had the chance to learn about energy jobs, development of clean energy projects on tribal lands and how to limit carbon pollution in support of tribal communities across the country.

As Western’s service territory covers 15 states and many tribal customers, we have the potential for partnership on energy projects. The event provided an opportunity to talk and share about those prospective energy projects and opportunities. In addition to sitting on a discussion panel, Meeks was able to hear the different tribe’s needs and concerns.

Learn more about the event and see some video on DOE’s Energy Blog post, “Tribal Summit Live.”

Update: DOE has posted a recap of the Tribal Summit and photos from the event.

Minnkota wins 2011 Wind Cooperative award

For the last nine years, Western’s Renewable Energy Program Manager Randy Manion—on behalf of DOE’s Wind Powering America initiative—has sought to recognize cooperatives that lead the pack in wind development.

At the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s annual Tech Advantage Conference in Orlando, Fla., March 8 to 11, Manion presented Karen Thingelstad of Minnkota Power Cooperative with the 2011 Wind Cooperative of the Year Award.

Minnkota was recognized for developing North Dakota’s first utility-owned wind turbine and for investing in wind energy through power purchase agreements with several wind projects. Wind energy now represents more than 30 percent of the generation and transmission cooperative’s total member energy requirements, collectively contributing an average of nearly 1,300 gigawatt-hours per year at an average annual capacity factor of 41 percent.

Read the whole story on the Department of Energy’s EnergyBlog.

Get a Congressional perspective of Western

As a Federal agency, Western is responsible for submitting a budget request to Congress (after its budget is reviewed and approved by the Department of Energy and the Office of Business Management).

Western Administrator Tim Meeks joined the administrators of Bonneville, Southeastern and Southwestern power administrations in testifying about the proposed fiscal year 2012 budget before the Subcommittee on Water and Power of the House Natural Resources Committee on March 15. In addition to submitting written testimony (61kb pdf), Meeks briefed the committee members on Western’s accomplishments and responded to questions from the committee. Watch a recording of the hearing.

While Congressional appropriations accounts for only about 10 percent of Western’s overall funding needs, it is an important piece to keeping the lights on throughout the West. These appropriations, coupled with customer funding, revolving funds and power sale receipts ensure Western can fund the operation, maintenance and on-going rehabilitation needed to ensure our Federal transmission system is reliably delivering power to customers throughout the West.

Upcoming rates meetings and updates for Desert Southwest area

Operating and maintaining an extensive, integrated and complex high-voltage power transmission system and delivering electric power to Western’s customers and the market through that system takes a lot of “behind-the-scenes” work. To continue meeting the mission of marketing and delivering cost-based Federal hydropower and related services, while meeting our obligation to repay U.S. Treasury, Western analyzes and updates power rates through public processes. Some of which are coming up in Western’s Desert Southwest region.

Boulder Canyon project—informal meeting scheduled

Customers and other interested parties can learn more about the annual Boulder Canyon Project adjustment of the Base Charge and rates at this informal meeting, March 10, at Western’s Desert Southwest Regional Office in Phoenix.

Learn more about the upcoming formal process in the Federal Register notice (pdf).

Ancillary, transmission services rates meeting

On March 10, Western will also host a public information forum for Desert Southwest Region customers and interested parties at the Phoenix office. The purpose of the forum is to provide information on proposed rate methodologies and new rates for Western Area Lower Colorado ancillary services and Network Integration Transmission Service on the Parker-Davis and Intertie projects. The proposed new rates will go into effect Oct. 1, 2011.

Learn more about the rate process in the Federal Register notice (pdf).