2010 Annual Report released

2010 Annual Report CoverWestern’s Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Report (2.4 mb pdf) is now available online. The publication documents Western’s accomplishments as well as its 2010 financials.

The report focuses on the “Roadmap to Renewable Energy” and explains where we are, where we’re going and the successes we’ve had in 2010 to get us there. Also, take a moment to review our highlights, which speak to our operational achievements for the year.

Renewable Transmission Webinar

Western is co-sponsoring the Sonoran-Mojave Renewable Transmission Project Preliminary Feasibility Study webinar. The one-hour webinar co-sponsored with the Solar Electric Power Association is Feb. 24, 2011 at 11 a.m., PST. The webinar will first focus on the activities of Western’s Transmission Infrastructure Program.  Attendees will also learn about other transmission project news and about the collaborative process that produced the SMRT study. The intended audience includes distribution and transmission engineers, system planners, grid operators, supply and procurement staff, renewable program managers and strategic planners.

TransWest Express Project to hold public meetings

Western is considering a partnership on a TransWest Express project in which Western would provide the funding through Section 402 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The TWE project consists of about 725 to 800 miles of 600-kV direct current overhead transmission line to deliver renewable energy from Wyoming to the Desert Southwest Region. The TWE project starts near Rawlins, Wyo., through Nephi, Utah, and on to the Las Vegas, Nev., area. Western and the Bureau of Land Management published a Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in the Federal Register on Jan. 4, initiating a 90-day public scoping period. The BLM and Western expect to hold 22 open-house meetings at various locations in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Nevada during the public scoping period.

BLM staff, Western staff and project proponents will be available at the public meetings to explain project details and gather information from interested individuals or groups. The exact dates, times and locations for these meetings will be announced at least 15 days before the event through local media, newspapers, newsletters and posting on the Western and BLM websites. The first round of meetings are listed on BLM’s TWE Scoping meeting schedule page.

Public Hearing on Rice Solar Energy Interconnection Project

Rice Solar Energy, is proposing the Rice Solar Energy Project, a 150-megawatt solar project in Riverside County, Calif. RSE has requested to interconnect this project to Western’s power transmission system. Western and the Bureau of Land Management are cooperating in the preparation of an EIS for this interconnection request along with the California Energy Commission to satisfy NEPA requirements.

Western and the BLM will hold a public hearing on the draft EIS on January 5, 2011, in Palm Desert, Calif., with the public comment period closing on January 20, 2011.

Interested in transmission services in the West?

On behalf of TransWest Express Transmission Project — a new transmission path from south-central Wyoming to southern Nevada — Western is seeking interest from any entity or entities interested in long-term firm transmission service to deliver generation over the new line.

The TWE Project is proposed as a 725-mile, 3,000 megawatt, 600-kilovolt, direct-current transmission system with terminals in Wyoming and Nevada. Western anticipates it will be able to make about 250 megawatts of transmission capacity available from Carbon County, Wyo., to the Clark County, Nev.

Western published a Request for Statements of Interest in the Oct. 18 Federal Register seeking responses from entities interested in transmission service. Responses to the SOI are due no later than 4 p.m., MST, Dec. 2, 2010.

For further information, contact:
Stacey Harris
Public Utilities Specialist
Transmission Infrastructure Program
Western Area Power Administration
P.O. Box 281213
Lakewood, CO 80228-8213
or e-mail txrfi@wapa.gov

Partnering to pilot other water resources

In the desert, water is a particularly precious commodity. While Western and the Bureau of Reclamation use this valuable resource to create and market power, that is only part of the “water” story. The water in the southwest supports recreation, farming crops, natural habitats and drinking water. Yet, the continued drought—coupled with increasing population—has created an even greater need to find more water. In May, an effort to supplement the Southwest fresh water resources, Reclamation ramped up its Yuma Desalting Plant.

As part of the Yuma Desalting Plant Pilot Run, Western worked with Reclamation to purchase power to run the plant.

Set to operate 365 days within an 18-month period, the desalted water is returned to the Colorado River system, while the rejected, salty brine is used to drive the energy recovery turbines at the clearwell pumping plant before flowing to the Santa Clara Marsh, also called the Cienega de Santa Clara.

Providing power and fresh water since May, the plant has operated safely and reliably every day, giving it a 100 percent on-stream factor—the ratio of operating days to calendar days. Plant Manager Michael Norris added, “The plant has recovered 5,555 acre-feet of water (more than 1.8 billion gallons) as of June 30.” This water has been included in water deliveries to Mexico; therefore, the same amount of water has not been released from Lake Mead and remains available for use in the United States. This not only helps the Southwest, but also Mexico. The United States, Mexico and a bi-national coalition of non-governmental organizations have committed to arrange the conveyance of 10,000 acre-feet of water each to the Cienega de Santa Clara, a fragile marshland at the Gulf of California, in Mexico.

“The Pilot Run is conducted on two parallel tracks: preparing plant equipment and systems and performing compliance and consultation activities,” Norris said. Consultations included water users, environmental groups, the general public, other Federal agencies and Mexico.

Western promotes industry through Science Bowl

Western, as part of the Department of Energy, promotes students interests in the science industry through the National Science Bowl. From Arizona and California to North and South Dakota, students and sponsors, including Western, participated in annual regional Science Bowl competitions vying for a seat at the national competition held every spring in Washington, D.C. Throughout Western’s regions, employees dedicated their time to serve as scientific judges, moderators, rule judges, scorekeepers and timekeepers at local Science Bowls. This is one way Western reaches out to local communities. As a result we witness the ultimate benefit of seeing these teenagers developing the skills to possible work in the energy industry.

The fast-paced Jeopardy-style competition challenged students’ knowledge of astronomy, biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, current events in the scientific community, computer, earth and general sciences.

Teams from across the nation who took home the first-place medal at their regional competitions received the all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national competition, April 29 through May 4.

“In additional to the national competition, students also participate in scientific activities, seminars and sightseeing,” said Bill Valdez, Director of the DOE Office of Science’s Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists, which administers the National Science Bowl®. “

Closing out the National Science Bowl’s® 20th year, one team within Western’s region held out to until the very end. Mira Loma High School, the 2009 National Science Bowl champions, made it to the final round and placed second to North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. Placing second is a victory in itself; with 68 high schools competing it’s quite an honor to make it to the final round.  Mira Loma High School team members won Nspire calculators provided by Texas Instruments and Computer Based Laboratories/2 and brought back $1,000 for their school’s science program.

As the 2010 championship, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics team, received an all-expense paid science research trip to study the ecosystems of Belize in Central America.

From the six Western-sponsored regional science bowl competitions, the following high schools made it to the national competition last week:

  • Arizona—BASIS Charter High School
  • California—Mira Loma High School (2009 NSB champions and 2010 2nd place winners)
  • Colorado—Poudre High School (placed in the top 16 National teams)
  • Montana—C. M. Russell High School
  • North Dakota—Red River High School
  • South Dakota—Greater Sioux Falls Home School Association

All national participants received certificates and won small prizes for activities. The teams who advanced to the elimination round earned a monetary prize for their school. Top teams also received trophies and other awards, including science trips for the high school teams.

There was even a middle school competition that Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu and First Lady Michelle Obama attended as moderators. Secretary Chu said on the White House blog, “Today, First Lady Michelle Obama and I have the distinct pleasure of lending a hand at the National Science Bowl – an impressive display of the scientific talents of our young people. “

Holding ourselves accountable

As every American household looks to tighten budgets, conserve resources and re-evaluate their overall needs versus wants, so must Western. As Western is determining needs over wants, we are examining our building energy use. With 22 sites and over 400 buildings across Western’s territory, we strive to meet the mandate in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and other executive orders to ensure our electricity use includes renewable energy.

Conservation throughout our administrative buildings is the foundation point for us. The renewable energy efforts we recently completed includes the lighting in our Corporate Services building (both ceiling and workstations) to determine the possibility of replacing the compact fluorescent bulbs with LED bulbs.

We are also reducing the lighting in our hallways by half. The Corporate Services building HVAC system previously operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week with different temperatures set throughout the building. Now the HVAC system is set to come on at 6 a.m., Monday through Friday, providing a consistent temperature of 72 degrees and it turns off at 5 p.m.

In our Rocky Mountain Region, we have installed VFD’s (variable frequency drives) on several of our cooling tower fans and on a large air handler. This allows the fans to run at slower speeds, based on demand. We are also having some repairs made to our photovoltaic system to extend the life of this renewable resource.

We also installed LED bulbs in stairways where lighting is required 24 hours a day, seven days a week . Finally, by using insulated fabric window shades we’ve reduced solar gain in summer and optimized window insulation in winter.

In our Sierra Nevada Regional office, skylights provide natural day lighting in hallways and office space. Using photo cells that turn out the lights in areas where the skylights provide enough light is another cost saving feature.

Dimmer switches are installed on all overhead lights that are near windows. These fixtures dim the lights as outside natural light provides enough light to allow the dimming. Also using occupancy sensors on most interior offices and conference rooms turns out the lights when the rooms are unoccupied. By using lighting controls that are programmed to turn lights off increases our lighting use and efficiency.

Last year, the SN office upgraded the chillers to high-efficiency scroll chillers with on-board controls to optimize the chillers performance. We also upgraded the building Energy Management System with new controls and new sequences of operation that optimize the performance of the central heating and cooling units. The EMS also has an astronomical clock that controls the external light according to seasonal day light hours. To finish off the conservation efforts in SN we have PV (photo voltaic) panels on the roof that provide electricity to the building.

The building also has heat exchangers that capture the waste heat from our computer room cooling unit condensers and puts it into our building heating loop, which essentially provides free heating when conditions permit.

In addition to maximizing lighting efficiency, regulating the temperature and recycling heat, Western is using Windsource credits. We purchased approximately 11,486 renewable energy credits in 2009 and we are looking to purchase 50,000 more in 2010.

Now we are asking ourselves, “Is that enough?”

In re-evaluating our method to calculate usage, we found some holes in our current method. We want a more accurate method to determine usage. With the help of our sister agency, Bonneville Power Administration, we are working to solidify the calculation to include those facilities that don’t have metering in place. This new process will allow us to determine if the current amount of renewable energy we are purchasing is sufficient. Results are expected in July.

So now we ask you, what is your company doing to conserve and to use our natural resources? Share your ideas!

Western’s connection to you

Western Area Power Administration has had many new adventures this year related to the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009.  As partnerships, projects and jobs are built, Western will keep you informed of its progress and encourage feedback.

Start now by visiting Western’s Web site to see the latest.