Course adapted to meet DOE’s Wind Program

Western’s Electric Power Training Center adapts course to meet DOE Wind Energy Program. The Aug. 26-29 Fundamentals of Power Systems Operations course will give participants an opportunity to receive hands-on experience in how the Bulk Electric System operates and challenges variable generation poses to system operators. The course will also show how the EPTC can play an active role in educating stakeholders on how to best manage increasing amounts of variable generation. The course will include a tour to the Ault substation and Western’s Rocky Mountain Control Center in Loveland, Colo.

Ramping up reliability in the Southwest

After the September 2011 large-scale power outage in southwestern Arizona and southern California, evaluations and reports of the incident stated both Western and Arizona Public Service needed to provide additional voltage support to the region in a very short timeframe. To meet the recommendations, Western and APS combined resourCapacitor banks at Kofa Substationces to install three, 15 megavar capacitors banks at the Kofa Substation. This project will provide voltage support to the Parker-Davis 161-kV system, which will support the heavy load growth in the Yuma, Ariz., area, as well as the Southwest Power Link transfers. The kicker of the project was that it had to be accelerated so it was completed before the heavy summer loads.

Through the partnership, Western provided the design and procured equipment to aid in the construction of the project and APS provided the contractor (Wilson Construction Company), procured additional equipment and installed the equipment with Western’s construction oversight.

The project was completed safely and on schedule thanks to the hard work and dedication from Western, APS and Wilson Construction. “Our thanks to all those that participated for their combined efforts and willingness to work together to ensure the reality of this project in such a short timeframe,” said Mike Garcia, a Desert Southwest engineering project manager.

Meeting Western’s commitment to provide additional voltage stability to the region before the heavier summer energy demand in 2013 ensures critical voltage control going forward.

Honoring through service

Shopping in a local do-it-yourself store on Monday, I realized that most Americans who get the extra day off from work use it to get yard work done, plant gardens or flowers and have family barbeques. It made me won

George McAlister, in his jungle uniform, and Scotty Brown, in his desert digitals, stand at attention in front of the Memorial Wall.

der how many of those shoppers surrounding me even knew the true meaning of the holiday we all know as Memorial Day.

Serving our country is what Western’s employees do as civilian employees, but many don’t even realize that is what they are doing. Some employees who also served in our armed forces better understand what it means to serve and choose to volunteer their time and skills in an effort to remember those that served with and before them. 

The week before Memorial Day, four Sierra Nevada employees answered a call to serve again. Western employees, who are also Vietnam era veterans, Scotty Brown and Matt Monroe (Marines), Don Clifton (Army), George McAlister (Air Force and Army), along with retired Western employee Mike Ryan (Air Force) paid special tribute to our fallen soldiers by volunteering to construct, guard and dismantle the Dignity Memorial Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall ®. The Wall was on display for the week leading up to Memorial Day.

Read more »

April snow brings better runoff! Multiple Colorado storms improve snowpack

Many Colorado media outlets are reporting that we are at only 80 percent of snowpack for the water year; but what they are not saying is that we are doing better than last year—and snowpack levels are still rising!

Line chart showing seasonal peaks for CBR for 2012, 2013 and an average of 1981 to 2010.

This line chart compares the average seasonal peaks

The last few storms have improved the runoff outlook; meaning as the snow melts, the runoff water fills Colorado’s streams and rivers. This time last year, the peak snowpack accural was over and the runoff was well under way. Current reports from the Colordao Basin River Forecast Center show that we have surpassed last year’s snowpack peak by about 30 percent and we are still climbing with this week’s storms.

This will certainly improve Western’s hydro conditions forecast for the Rocky Mountain Region. Although our hydro conditions are not back to 100 percent, we hope this year’s total will be improved from last year. Ski resorts may be closing and sad to see that the snow is just now accumulating, but here at Western we are ecstatic and say, “Keep it coming, Mother Nature!”

In a battle of knowledge, students excel to national competition

Putting science and mathematics to the test, high- and middle-school students spend late winter and early spring competing at regional competitions for top honors at the Department of Energy National Science Bowl at the end of April  in Washington, D.C. 

Throughout Western’s territory, our employees sponsor and volunteer for the regional Science Bowls in hopes that one of our local high school and middle school teams takes the top honors at the national level. Western employees volunteer as judges, timers, runners and announcers.

Starting Feb. 2 with the Big Sky Regional Science Bowl in Billings, Mont., and Rocky Mountain RSB in Ft. Collins, Colo., Western participates in six regional bowls.  The Arizona RSB is scheduled for March 2 in Glendale, Ariz. Still to be schedule are the Sacramento, North Dakota and South Dakota RSBs.

Substation to add reliability, better service to grid

South of Parker Dam near Parker, Ariz., sits the beginning phase of a new switchyard, just north of the  existing 161 kV tap.

With the lines shoo flied around the new site, construction began with grading the site, erecting the perimeter fence and placing the foundation for equipment and the new control building.

Completing this switchyard will convert the existing 161-kV tap to a more reliable configuration that will provide better service to both Western and its customers.  Using pre-payment funding the substation is expected to be completed and energized by December 2013.

Watts Up is a first place cow

Western’s Upper Great Plains Region gets in the spirit in their local community and wins top honors. Participating in the 19th annual Great

Scarecrow contest winner, Watts Up - a cow created from farm equipment

Lisa Wolf (l) and Jack Winter (r) win the humorous award for Western's Huron employees' association

Scarecrow Festival, the Huron employees associations’ “Watts Up!” cow–a metal cow made out of old farm parts and other junk–competed against 33 other scarecrows taking the humorous scarecrow commercial/organization award and earning the traveling trophy.

Watts Up is a metal cow constructed from a fuel barrel welded to an old truck frame with a front and rear axle from an old truck. The whole idea was to make it from used junk; and, if it were farm-related, that was even better. Read more »

Deputy Secretary of Energy Poneman stops by Western

Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman talks with Western employeesIn a spontaneous visit to Colorado Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman made a quick stop by Western’s Corporate Services Office in Lakewood, Sept. 14, sandwiched between two other meetings in the area.

Opening with “I’m not really hear to talk; I’m here to answer any questions you have on your mind,” Poneman said in his video conference with several hundred Western employees. Read more »

Western Operations Study presented

Western hosted a webinar for customers Aug. 16—after posting the report a week earlier—to allow its consultant, Miracorp, to discuss the process they followed to create the report and also define Western’s next steps. Learn more about the study on Western’s Opertions Study page.

Photo of the day

Ron Miller performs simulated rescue atop a power poleIn a job where high-risk tasks are a daily business, training is vital. Especially when we talk rescue training.  On an annual basis, maintenance crews at Western are required to perform fall protection training to be a “qualified” climber.  In this photo, Ron Miller, Rocky Mountain Region lineman performs a simulated poletop rescue during training.