Large hydro projects could apply to California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard

In February, the California legislature introduced Assembly Bill 1771 Renewable energy resources: hydroelectric generation, which, if enacted, would revise what size hydropower plant can contribute to an energy service provider’s renewable portfolio standard and how many megawatts can be counted.

Currently, only small hydropower plants qualify to be used as a renewable energy source under California’s 33-percent RPS requirement, and the maximum hydropower contribution is 30 megawatts. 

If enacted in its present form, the hydropower plant size and megawatt limits would be eliminated, which could increase interest in Western’s Sierra Nevada region’s Central Valley Project. The CVP’s 11 hydropower plants produced 5,369 gigawatt-hours in Fiscal Year 2011 for preference power customers in California.  

The bill is tentatively scheduled to be heard in committee March 22.

Brophy College Preparatory School wins Arizona Regional Science Bowl

Brophy College Preparatory School of Phoenix won the Arizona Regional Science Bowl today at Glendale Community College in Glendale, Ariz., March 3. The winning team, including Kyle Chapman, Seth Harris, Ivan Iotzov, Aakash Jain, and Andrew Salmon and Coach Cheryl Lenox, advances to Washington, D.C., April 26 to 30 to compete against more than 77 other regional winners in the national finals of the Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl.

Desert Vista High School of Phoenix finished second, Brophy Preparatory School of Phoenix finished third and BASIS Tucson of Tucson, Ariz., finished fourth.

Check out more at Western’s press release.

Western holds Tribal webinar on transmission policy

Western conducted an Unwinding Transmission Policies webinar for 30 Native American Tribes and other interested parties Feb. 29 to explain what transmission policy is, how it is established and who enforces it. FERC Order 1000 and its possible impact to transmission resources were also discussed.

Questions ranged from whether Western would be releasing a renewable request for proposals to very specific issues regarding FERC policy.

“[It] was a well-done presentation. I appreciated [the speaker]’s organized and thoughtful approach to such a complex topic,” said Jan Bush, an environmental planner at Transcon Environmental. “When the recorded presentation becomes available, I would like to share it with the environmental planning staff here at Transcon.

This is the fourth webinar Western has held in partnership with the DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs and the DOE Tribal Energy Program.

Check out more, including audio recordings and presentations, in Western’s press release.

Western, UWIG wind, solar workshop imparts interconnection knowledge

Thirty five utility groups, grid operators and renewable energy developers filled the Western Area Power Administration’s Electric Power Training Center in Golden, Colo., Feb. 22 to 24 to learn about interconnecting wind and solar energy into the bulk and distribution electric grid.

“I thought it was great. It was a nice forum with impressive speakers,” said Jay Caspary from the Department of Energy Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability and on loan from the regional transmission organization Southwest Power Pool. “There were a lot of smart people there, and I enjoyed connecting with people in the area.”

Find out more at Western’s press release.

Western accelerates small business payments

Starting Feb. 1, Western offices in five states and serving customers in 15 states halved payment times to small businesses from 30 to 15 days.

“The new process is working well. Only the Accounts Payable office and purchasing approving officials were impacted,” said Corporate Services Office Fiscal Operations Manager Lynn Hahn. “To most employees involved in procurement or payment of invoices, the process is transparent.”

Western implemented the new process in response to a September 2011 Office of Management and Budget memo, which mandated agencies to accelerate payment dates to small business contractors 15 days after receiving the required documentation instead of the 30-day payment cycle under the Prompt Payment Act.

Check out more at Western’s Newsroom.

One in a million: Western restores power quickly to Cody, Wyo., Feb. 23

Western’s line crew from the Cody maintenance shop string new cable on the Big George-to-Glendale Tap 69-kV line after a winter storm took down the line Feb. 23, causing an outage in northwest Wyoming.

On the surface, the outage that affected northwest Wyoming at about 9:10 a.m. Feb. 23 seems straight forward: A winter storm took down a 69-kilovolt transmission line north of Cody near the Park County Regional Landfill, thrusting the local utilities and the residents of Cody, Powell, Willwood, Garland and Ralston into darkness for nearly two hours.

Power was restored at about 10:50 a.m., but it wasn’t because the downed line was back on the towers.

The evening before, another event about 60 miles away from the downed line, probably caused by wind swinging the cables, called conductors, too close together on the Lovell-to-North Cody 69-kV transmission line, cut off the back-up power feed to the area through the Lovell Substation. This problem left the Big George-to-Glendale Tap 69-kV line the only power source in the area.

 “This was a one in a million deal for us,” said Cody Field Manager Doug Padgett, who responded to the Lovell Substation. “You had two separate, distinct problems caused by two separate, distinct events. It was not expected at all.”

Check out the full story on how Western and the local community worked together to restore power in Wyoming at Western’s Newsroom.

Western hosts wind, solar interconnection workshop

Western is teaming up with the Utility Wind Integration Group, American Public Power Association and the Department of Energy’s Wind and Water Power, Solar Energy Technologies and Tribal Energy programs to present the sixth annual Distributed Wind/Solar Interconnection Workshop, Feb. 22 to 24.

The workshop, taking place at Western’s Electric Power Training Center in Golden, Colo., provides a comprehensive overview of wind and solar integration studies. 

Expert speakers will use case studies to answer questions about interconnecting wind and solar plants and other distributed generation applications to electric distribution systems. Participants will get an introduction to UWIG’s Internet-based tools for assessing a distributed wind project’s impact on the local distribution system.

Registration and $300 is required to attend the workshop in person. Those interested can also attend four online sessions for just $99. 

Find out more at Western’s Newsroom or the event announcement.

Ridgeview Classical wins Rocky Mountain regional science bowl

Ridgeview Classical Schools of Fort Collins won the Rocky Mountain Regional Science Bowl Feb. 18 at Poudre High School in Fort Collins, Colo. The winning team, including Jordan Diemer, Artem Bolshakov, Caleb Jhones, Luke Boustred, Alexander Horne and Coach Paula Petterson, advances to Washington, DC, April 26-30 to compete against more than 77 other regional winners in the national finals of the Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl.

Fairview High School of Boulder finished second and Poudre High School of Fort Collins finished third. Find out more at Western’s Newsroom.

Western offers Federal agencies easy tool to go “greener”

Federal agencies interested in meeting their renewable energy goals and mandates, improving the environment and supporting national energy security are invited to join the 2012 renewable energy certificate (REC) solicitation being issued by Western.

Participating in this solicitation is easy: Complete and submit the Statement of Intent for Federal Agencies to Purchase Renewable Resources no later than April 20. Western is also offering a webinar to educate agencies and others on the program and submission process March 14 at 10 a.m. MST. Interested parties need to register.

For more information, visit Western’s Newsroom or the Renewable Resources for Federal Agencies website.

California announces below normal snowpack levels

The California Department of Water Resources announced continuing dry winter conditions in its state-wide survey Feb. 1, which could impact the available water for Western’s Central Valley Project this summer.
 
“Water content in California’s mountain snowpack is far below normal for this time of year,” stated the department’s press release.
 
Overall, the average water content of California’s snowpack was 37 percent of normal for this date. For the CVP area, the relative composition of the Sierra Nevada snowpack was 26 percent of the April 1 seasonal average for the northern Sierras, 20 percent for the central Sierras and 25 percent for the southern Sierras.
 
January is typically one of the wettest months, but with a lack of winter storms, state water managers have begun to express concerns about the need for more rain and snow.
 
“So far, we just haven’t received a decent number of winter storms,” said Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin.
 
“Because last year was such an above-normal water year, starting water storage levels for Federal and state storage reservoirs are relatively higher than normal,” said Sierra Nevada Power Marketing Manager Sonja Anderson. This will help delay any affects to the power supply even if the snowpack doesn’t reach its average levels.
 
“As long as California receives normal to near normal precipitation levels for the rest of the water year, water and hydropower output for the Central Valley and state water projects would not be as detrimentally impacted as in past years,” said Anderson.
 
However, any reductions in the output of the Reclamation CVP power plants will raise the cost of Western’s CVP power to customers, which is marketed by the percent of hydropower available.