DSW makes power lines more visible to protect wildlife

Seeing a flock of birds on a transmission line can be an amazing sight, and although birds can perch safely on electrical wires, colliding with them can cause injury or death. When power lines are near lakes and ponds, the risk of collision increases. This is the case of the birds of Lake Watson in Prescott, Ariz.

Desert Southwest Apprentice Lineman Horacio Adriano installs bird diverters on Western’s Prescott-Pinnacle Peak 230-kilovolt line.

Desert Southwest Apprentice Lineman Horacio Adriano installs line-marking devices on Western’s Prescott-Pinnacle Peak 230-kilovolt line.

In January, a five-man Desert Southwest maintenance crew, led by Foreman II Lineman Ronnie Martinez, installed line-marking devices, or LMDs, on Western’s Prescott-to-Pinnacle Peak 230-kilovolt line. “This is the first time DSW Maintenance crews took on a project like this so it was a good experience for all involved,” said Line Crew Foreman III Mark DePoe.

DSW installed the LMDs because residents of Lake Watson were worried that the birds using the lake were colliding with the overhead ground wires, and asked Western to help. Although there was no evidence of bird collisions near the lines, DSW’s Environmental group decided to install the devices. “Our power lines run east and west in that area and pass just southwest of the lake. Although we haven’t seen bird causalities in the area, we agreed to install the LMDs before anything hap-pened. We pride ourselves on being good neighbors and environmental stewards,” explained DePoe.

Before installation, the line was de-energized, and crew members thoroughly inspected the overhead ground wires for damage as a safety precaution. ἀe devices are staggered 50 feet apart  on each of the overhead ground wires.

DSW installed LMDs that clamp onto overhead ground wires. They are made of light plastic and reflective tape so they can easily swivel in the wind, and since they are not stationary, they are more likely visible to birds. “The birds will see [the devices] and not collide with the overhead ground wires,” said DePoe.

Although Lake Watson residents have not experienced an outage from bird collisions on the Prescott-to-Pinnacle Peak line, animals are one of the main causes of power outages in Western’s territory. Biologist Misti Schriner shared, “Western is actively involved in Avian Power Line Interaction Committee efforts to under-stand and educate the utility industry and conservation groups about the nature of power lines and birds.”

Western’s proactive approach to the situation, coupled with the collaborative effort between Maintenance, Environment and the community, created a win-win situation for everyone.

Planning reliable power delivery for the future

Recently, the Western’s Desert Southwest Region updated its 10-year Capital Program. The Fiscal Year 2012 Capital Program provides both a capital investment plan, as well as a funding plan, that will ensure reliable power delivery to Western’s customers.

The updated program booklet clearly describes DSW’s strategy to construct and repair Western’s transmission lines; it entails DSW’s current goals and challenges to maintain reliability and outlines its major accomplishments for FY 2011; it also provides an opportunity for customer collaboration.

Program aligns Western’s, customers’ goals

The Capital Program is an ongoing project revised annually in response to approved funding allocations for the budget year, changes in project priority, unforeseen problems with the transmission system, mandates or regulatory requirements and new contractual requirements.

Fluctuations in funding make it difficult to plan which projects to carry out and at what pace to complete them. Appropriated funds don’t carry over from year to year, which means any excess funding that is still available at the end of the fiscal year cannot be used in subsequent years.

In FY 2010, Western and its customers decided that the best way to address the ongoing funding struggle was to use prepayment funding for selected construction projects, and it has significantly helped DSW’s position. Customers prepay for transmission services, providing a source of funds to cover some of the appropriations shortfalls. Projects that are proposed for pre-payment are first submitted for funding through the typical appropriated funding process.

The use of pre-payment funding is beneficial to both Western and its customers and has provided a significant, and consistent, source of construction dollars since its inception.

Projects see 2011 success, 2012 schedules

Despite appropriated funding issues in FY 2011, DSW completed several construction and RRAD projects. “DSW customers are very satisfied with our progress, particularly in the last two years since we’ve been working prepayment projects. DSW customers are able to see their money at work and that helps build our credibility as an organization and develops a relationship of trust and  cooperation,” said Project Manager Chris Lyles.

With FY 2012 already in progress, all projects scheduled for execution this year are dependent on the receipt of adequate appropriated funding in a timely manner.

The 10-year Capital Program is the means for identifying, prioritizing, scheduling and funding projects that directly affect Western and its customers. It is essential to meeting Western’s mission of providing reliable power to its customers.

Learn more about DSW’s 10-year Capital Plan.

Let holiday lighting shine bright without breaking the budget

Holiday lights can illuminate our homes with cheer inside and out, but with energy costs continuing to increase, saving money on the power it takes to run those lights could help many businesses and family budgets.
 
Instead of using incandescent bulbs, light-emitting diode lights and fiber optic trees are two energy-efficient technology options that can substantially reduce your energy costs and increase safety at the same time. Products are available for residential and commercial applications, and the ENERGY STAR® program now has specifications for decorative light strings.
 
Read more about holiday lighting choices in the Energy Services’s Holiday Lighting 2011 Fact Sheet.
 
 
An infrared camera shows how much heat the lighting on the tree produces.

An infrared camera shows how much heat the lighting on the tree produces.

Western's office christmas tree
Western’s office christmas tree

Western works with Crow Creek Nation to repair structure

The initial topsoil removal and cutting back of the bank (notice the eroded area close to the structure footing), while Crow Creek Nation archaeological monitor looks on.

In May, floodwaters engulfed the Crow Creek Reservation located in central South Dakota, damaging several roads and struc­tures. Flash flooding eroded a ravine next to one of Western’s transmission towers located on private land within the reserva­tion boundary. The erosion endangered both the tower and the line’s operability and reliability near a 230-kilovolt steel transmission line. Had the bank caved to the edge of the footing, the tower would have begun to lean and could eventually have collapsed, cutting power to the customers who rely on the line. Western’s Upper Great Plains region employees, in cooperation with the Crow Creek Nation, worked to prevent its destruction.

Western’s Engineering and Maintenance employ­ees determined that the best way to fix the erosion problem was to use simple but effective Gabion baskets to stabilize the bank and divert water away from the structure. Gabion baskets are large wire baskets filled with rip-rap and connected together—in this instance, three tiers high— to divert the flow of water away from an eroding bank. Initially, the floor of the ravine was leveled in order for a track-hoe to cut back the bank for the placement of the baskets. Filter fabric that allows for the pas­sage of water, but not sediment, was layered between the baskets, and the soil from the excavated bank was then filled in behind the baskets. A layer of clay was then placed in the ravine in front of the baskets to prevent soil from eroding out from underneath.

The Crow Creek Nation, as stewards of the cultural resources within the reservation boundar­ies, felt that it was important to protect and preserve these sites. It’s also Western policy to preserve, protect and avoid disturbance to cultural resources whenever possible. For that reason, UGP developed several project alternatives to address the emer­gency situation without damaging the archaeological sites. Western was able to keep its construction “footprint” to a minimum, thereby reducing the amount of ground disturbance around the project area.

Field work began Nov. 2 and concluded within two weeks. Nice weather condi­tions helped the work progress quickly. Following completion of the project, Western restored the excavated bank and reintroduced the removed vegetation to the topsoil so that it has a chance to recover in spring.

Glen Canyon management plan overhaul

In an effort to improve and protect the resources of the Grand Canyon, the Bureau of Reclamation and the National Park Service initiated a public process on Nov. 7 to review the timing and volume of water flow from Glen Canyon Dam. This includes the management of the dam over the next 15 to 20 years.

A Long-Term Experimental and Management Plan will be developed to ensure that the water flow management on the Colorado River meets goals of supplying water for communities, agriculture and industry, and protecting the natural resources and fish species of the Grand Canyon, while providing hydropower.

The next step is to develop an environmental impact statement.

In addition to the meetings, written comments are being accepted through Dec. 30 of this year, with a draft study expected to be released in 2013.

More information, visit the Glen Canyon Dam website.

Acquisition of Tonbridge Power Inc. complete

The Montana Alberta Tie Limited Project’s parent company, Tonbridge Power Inc., announced on Oct. 13 that the acquisition of Tonbridge by an affiliate of Enbridge Inc. is a 100 perecent completed. This agreement must follow a court-approved plan. Enbridge will continue MATL’s construction and development, working closely with Western’s Transmission Infrastructure Program. MATL’s expected completion date remains around mid-2012. For more information on the acquisition visit MATL’s website.

Transmission workshop creates networks, possibilities

Meeting Transmission Challenges in the Rocky Mountain Region, a workshop held June 21 in Fort Collins, Colo., proved that “if you plan it, they will come.”
 
Western brought together transmission customers, tribes, developers, state and Federal agencies and utilities to discuss Western’s transmission planning and services and to discuss transmission challenges in the region.
“There is need for transmission to support new generation across Western’s 15-state service territory,” said RM Contracts and Energy Services Specialist and workshop host Bob Langenberger. “But there are regulations, competing state needs and the question of where generation is built and the transmission to get it to market.”

With several organizations and different interests represented, the workshop pointed out the common desire to develop interconnections to the transmission system. “It’s important to come together, identify all those interests and find good investment solutions that best meet those desires, while maintaining the power grid’s reliability,” said Desert Southwest’s Transmission Services Manager Ron Moulton.

Moulton recognized how important this meeting was for Western and its customers. He explained, “There’s a considerable amount of energy needs in Western’s service territory. It’s important for us to understand customer needs and concerns to meet those needs in an environmentally-friendly and cost effective way.”

Read the full story at Energy Services Bulletin.

Western extends comment period for 2021 Power Marketing Initiative

Western’s Upper Great Plains Region published the proposed 2021 Power Marketing Initiative in the Federal Register notice on March 4, 2011. Western received a comment requesting additional time to submit comments on the proposed 2021 PMI and re-opened the written comment period for the proposed 2021 PMI until Sept. 6, 2011.

Western’s firm electric service contracts associated with the current marketing plan will expire Dec. 31, 2011. This proposed 2021 PMI provides the basis for marketing the long-term firm hydroelectric resources of the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program—Eastern Division beyond 2020.

Entities interested in commenting on the proposed 2021 PMI must submit written comments to:

Robert J. Harris, Regional Manager
Upper Great Plains Region
Western Area Power Administration
2900 4th Avenue North
Billings, MT 59101–1266

Western must receive written comments by 4 p.m., MDT, on Sept. 6. Comments may also be faxed to 406-255–2900 or e-mailed to UGP2021@wapa.gov.

Western will prepare and publish the final 2021 PMI in the Federal Register after all public comments on the proposed 2021 PMI are considered.

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

Revising resource planning

Western is requesting comments on the proposed evaluation criteria and procedures that it will use for future Integrated Resource Planning acquisitions. The current principle, established in 1995, calls for developing project-by-project acquisition and transmission planning. This action would create standardized Western-wide evaluation criteria for IRP principles.

Western is also proposing to eliminate the transmission planning principles in the Federal Register notice.

Public meeting scheduled

Western will hold a public meeting to solicit input on Western’s revision to the Final Principles of IRP for Use in Resource Acquisition and Transmission Planning July 21 at, 8:30 a.m., MDT, in Lakewood, Colo. The meeting will also be available by conference call and webcast.

The meeting will address the new proposed evaluation criteria and procedures Western will use for long-term resource acquisition, as well as the intent to eliminate transmission planning principles.

Send comments

You can send written comments about Western’s proposed IRP revision to:

Julia L. Kyriss
Colorado River Storage Project Manager
CRSP Management Center
150 East Social Hall Avenue
Suite 300, Salt Lake City, Utah 84111–1580

Comments may also be e-mailed to finalprinciples@wapa.gov or faxed to 801-524–5017.

For more information about the request for comments and the 1995 principles for IRPs, see the June 29 Federal Register notice. You may also call Paula Fronk at 801-524–6383.

Track National Science Bowl progress this weekend

The National Science Bowl competiton is April 28 to May 2.

In 1991, the Department of Energy developed the NSB to encourage students from across the nation to excel in math and science and to pursue careers in those fields. It’s an academic science competition for high school and middle school students who show their knowledge in a question-and-answer format. The goal is to invest in our next generation of scientists, engineers and educators so America can remain at the forefront of innovation and successfully compete in the 21st century global marketplace.

Western is committed to math and science education to help provide a technically trained and diverse workforce for the nation. Western supports the Science Bowl with six annual regional competitions from around its service territory.

You can keep up-to-date with the latest news and highlights at the NSB website or the Official NSB Facebook page.