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.

Western Administrator Keynotes Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange

Western Administrator Mark Gabriel

Western Administrator Mark Gabriel

Western Area Power Administration Administrator Mark Gabriel and Colorado Energy Office Director Jeff Ackermann will keynote the 7th Annual Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange Oct 9-11, 2013, in Aspen, CO.  More than 80 presenters are expected to join them for this year’s event. The general, breakout and poster sessions will explore case study best practices and lessons learned from those who develop, implement and evaluate utility customer programs dealing with energy and water efficiency, renewable energy, demand response and key account customer management.

The Rocky Mountain Exchange is a networking and professional development forum for about 100 utility and
government organization professionals as well as trade allies who provide products and services to support utility customer programs. The conference provides general and breakout sessions as well as networking opportunities.

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.

TransWest Express Project Draft EIS available

Overview map of TransWest Express Project

Overview map of TransWest Express Project

The Bureau of Land Management announced the publication of the TransWest Express Transmission Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement July 3.  The release of the Draft EIS begins a 90-day public comment period that will include thirteen public meetings hosted by Western and the BLM scheduled throughout the project area.  The Draft EIS and schedule of public meetings are available on BLM’s TranWest Express Project website.

Western’s Administrator Mark Gabriel said, “This is a major milestone in the NEPA process, and we hope people read the draft EIS and provide comments. We [Western] are here to help strengthen the energy highway by connecting communities with reliable power and renewable generation. The results of the final NEPA review and other analyses will guide us when we decide whether to continue to participate in the project beyond the development phase.”

The TransWest Express Transmission Project is a proposed 725 mile, 600-kV direct current transmission line that may provide up to 3,000 MW of capacity. The line would extend from south central Wyoming, to the El Dorado Valley south of Las Vegas, Nevada, and would facilitate the delivery of Wyoming wind generation resources to load centers in Nevada, Arizona, and California.

Western is proposing to participate as a joint owner of the TWE Project; a decision on whether to be a joint owner will be made when the development phase is complete. Western is authorized to contribute up to $25 million of its $3.25

billion borrowing authority for the project development phase, which includes the environmental review and other technical feasibility studies.

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.

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Next Tribal webinar, May 29, highlights transmission issues

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas and the eight U.S. regional reliability organizations are expanding regional transmission planning activities and broadening stakeholder involvement to plan for East-West interconnections. Hear about the status of the organizations’ plans and evaluations of long-term regional transmission needs.

Register today for Regional Transmission Planning, fifth webinar in the free series, Turning Knowledge into Energy Projects. All webinars in the series are scheduled for 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mountain Time.

Western and DOE’s Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs and Tribal Energy Program have teamed up to present the webinars. Don’t miss these events if you are looking for ways to promote tribal energy sufficiency and foster economic development and employment on tribal lands through renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. You will learn about marketing, transmission, financing, partnerships and much more.

Mira Loma High School takes top honors at NSB

The Mira Loma High School Science Bowl team Final Awards Ceremony for tthe 2013 National Science Bowl. Left to right:Dr Pat Dehmer,Acting Director Office of Science, Siddharth Trehan,Jacob Gurey, Saaket Agrawal,Daniel Shen, Coach James Hill. Photo by Dennis Brack, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science

An outstanding team at Mira Loma High School from Sacramento, Calif. earned first place at the Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl completion, April 30 in Washington, DC. The school’s winning streak reputation has earned them 13 Sierra Nevada Regional Science Bowl first-place titles and three first-place trophies from the national competition.

As a prize for winning the 2013 NSB, the Mira Loma team received a nine-day, all-expense paid science trip to Alaska. While on the trip, the students will take day trips to learn about glaciology, marine and avian biology, geology and plate tectonics.

More than 9,000 high school students on 1,894 teams took part in this year’s competition.

Employees from across Western’s service territory volunteer as judges, timers, runners and announcers at regional Science Bowl competitions.

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!”

Mark Gabriel named new Western Administrator

Mark Gabriel photo

Mark Gabriel

DOE announced Mark Gabriel as Western’s new Administrator Apr. 3. Welcome to Western, Mark!

While the DOE announcement provides Mark’s curriculum vitae and relevant background, he gave Western employees a little more personal look shortly after the announcement.

In his first few months at Western, Mark says his top tasks will be to get a sense of the organization, get a solid handle on the critical issues we face and work to understand the intricacies of the place. “It is too early for me to set hard goals, and I have a lot to learn from the team at Western, our customers and our partners at DOE. It will be critical for me to develop an understanding and assessment on the financial situation focusing on the unique challenges faced by Western.” He added, “I will also actively reach out to the customers and staff. The relationship with people is how organizations succeed or fail.”

In addition to being an avid outdoorsman, Mark said, “One of my other hobbies is the history of our great electric industry—that is why I included so much of it in my book, Visions for a Sustainable Energy Future. It may sound corny, but I truly believe that it is a privilege and honor to keep this nation’s vital resource and critical infrastructure operating every day.”

On why he applied to be Western’s Administrator, Mark said, “Western’s mission of delivering clean and reliable power to customers while maintaining our nation’s critical infrastructure aligns perfectly with my beliefs and goals. Having worked in this wonderful business for more than 20 years on a number of critical projects and problems, the opportunity to work for an organization so critical to this nation’s economic vitality and health was too hard to pass up.”

If you could ask Mark one question as he approaches his new job, what would it be?

Western safety practices exalted!

While Western employees work diligently keeping “the lights on”, they also aim high to go home safe each night. Safety is our number one priority and last year employees proved it by earning the American Public Power Association’s Electric Utility Safety Awards of Excellence for safe operating practices in 2012

Western’s Chief Operating Officer Tony Montoya expressed his appreciation saying, “We are proud of our safety performance. We have a staff of top-class professionals who strive to ensure safe operations in every facet of their work.”

In 2012, Western crews—including electricians, meter and relay craftsmen and linemen—spent more than 2.6 million hours working out in the field. Those 1,700-plus employees had fewer than 22 recordable injuries for an incident rate of 1.6.

The rate is based on work-related recordable injuries or illnesses and the number of hours worked during the year. “The award recognition goes to the employees who work in high risk environments each and every day,” said Western’s Safety Manager Kevin Jensen. “A successful culture of safety means every employee is watching out for their fellow Western brothers’ and sisters’ safety all the time.”  

What safety practices do you take pride in?