Call for wind award nominations

Western is calling for nominations for the 2011 Wind Cooperative of the Year Award now through Feb. 13 to honor one electric cooperative for its leadership and investments in wind power.

All electric cooperatives in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, a national service organization for more than 900 not-for-profit electric providers, are eligible to apply. Nominations are due to Randy Manion at Manion@wapa.gov.

“This is one of the most effective technology transfer activities because it inspires other cooperatives to investigate wind energy opportunities in and adjacent to their service territories,” said Manion, Western’s Renewable Resource Program Manager.

The winner will be recognized at the 2012 National Rural Electric Cooperative Association TechAdvantage Conference in San Diego, Calif., March 8. Last year’s winner was Minnkota Power Cooperative, a Western customer located in Grand Forks, N.D.

For more information or to nominate a cooperative, visit http://www.repartners.org/#windcoop11.

Western helps neighboring utility overcome storm damage

Lineman Ryan Wheeler from Western’s Redding maintenance office uses a hot stick to remove snow from a transmission line.

Lineman Ryan Wheeler from Western’s Redding maintenance office uses a hot stick to remove snow from a transmission line.

A Western Sierra Nevada line crew heeded a call for mutual aid and assistance from a neighboring utility and customer Jan. 20 in response to the unexpectedly severe Pacific Northwest winter storm, which had extensively damaged the utility’s local transmission system.

Western’s Sierra Nevada Region Redding line crew worked closely with linemen from Trinity Public Utilities District along steep and rugged terrain Jan. 20 through 22 to restore power to the citizens of Weaverville, Douglas City, Lewistown and Hayfork in northern California, or about 8,000 citizens.

Read more at Western’s Newsroom.

Aberdeen Central High School wins S.D. regional science bowl

South Dakota Regional Science Bowl winners

Aberdeen Central’s Team No. 2 was the winner of the 2012 South Dakota Regional Science Bowl held Saturday at Huron Event Center. The team qualified for the national tournament this April in Washington, D.C. Pictured are, from left, Coach Janet Palmer, Diana Peck, Matthew Guthmiller, Patrick Dawn, Coach Chuck Hermansen and Luke Malsom. (Photo courtesy of Sean M.X. Kelley, Plainsman newspaper)

Aberdeen Central High School Team 2 of Aberdeen, S.D., won the South Dakota Regional Science Bowl Jan. 21 at the Huron Event Center. The winning team, including Diana Peck, Patrick Dawn, Matthew Guthmiller and Luke Malsom and Coaches Jan Palmer and Chuck Hermansen, advances to Washington, D.C., April 26-30 to compete against 77 other regional winners in the national finals of the Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl.

Aberdeen Central High School Team 1 finished second and Rapid City Central High School of Rapid City, S.D., finished third.

Twenty-one teams from high schools all over South Dakota competed for the regional title. Many of these teams spent months preparing for this regional event, which features head-to-head competition in a fast-paced question and answer format similar to Jeopardy. The students competed to be the first to answer questions on all science disciplines including astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth science, mathematics and physics, as well as math.

This is the 19th year for the South Dakota Regional Science Bowl hosted by Western Area Power Administration. Science Bowl encourages high school students to excel in math and science and to pursue careers in those fields.

More than 13,000 high school students from schools in 46 states and Puerto Rico will compete in the national competition. Since 1991, more than 130,000 students and teachers have participated.

National Science Bowl returns

Western regions are preparing again for the annual National Science Bowl, a Department of Energy led competition that pits teams of high school and middle school students against one another in the fields of science and math.

Four-person teams first compete at a regional level, and winners advance to compete nationally at an annual event in Washington, D.C. This year, the national competition is April 26-30. Last year, the Mira Loma High School team from the Western-sponsored Sacramento Regional Science Bowl in California won 1st place.

Admission to the regional events is free, and everyone is encouraged to attend and cheer on their local schools. Additionally, regional competitions are always looking for volunteers to help with timekeeping, asking questions, scoring and other tasks.

So check out your local regional competition hosted by Western:

South Dakota Regional Science Bowl - Jan. 21
Sacramento Regional Science Bowl - Feb. 4
Rocky Mountain Regional Science Bowl - Feb. 4
North Dakota Science Bowl - Feb. 4
Big Sky Regional Science Bowl - Feb. 4
Arizona Regional Science Bowl - March 3

Good luck teams!

Western to hold opportunity session for Colorado’s small businesses

Western’s Small Business Program is leading a business opportunity session for Denver and Colorado Springs small businesses Jan. 18 from 9 a.m. to noon at Western’s Corporate Services Office in Lakewood, Colo.

The session will develop connections between small businesses and Federal acquisition and program managers and will include breakout sessions, networking, familiarization with Western’s acquisition process and opportunities for small businesses in fiscal year 2012.

There is no cost to attend, and no reservations required. For more information, contact Cheryl Drake at drake@wapa.gov.

Western’s Small Business Program achieved great success in FY 2011. Western awarded 71 percent of its appropriated funds to small businesses, nearly tripling the government-wide goal of 23 percent. Western also outpaced Department of Energy objectives for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned, Women-Owned and Small Disadvantaged small businesses, among others.

Reclamation Extends Comment Period on Glen Canyon Dam Operations EIS

After receiving a number of requests, the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Park Service decided to extend the scoping period for a new Environmental Impact Statement related to the operation of Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River from Dec. 30 to Jan. 31.

During the scoping period, agencies determine what factors to consider in the EIS and gather comments from the public to identify social, economic and environmental concerns and project alternatives to evaluate.

The EIS, which is jointly led by Reclamation and the Park Service, involves adopting a Long-Term Experimental and Management Plan for the Operation of Glen Canyon Dam.

The plan, the first comprehensive review of dam operations in 15 years, will ensure that regulated flows on the Colorado River meet the goals of supplying hydroelectricity and water for communities, agriculture and industry; protecting endangered species; and lessening the impact on downstream ecosystems, including the Grand Canyon and Glen Canyon.

Changes to current water flows will be evaluated as “alternatives” in the EIS.

For more information on the EIS or how to submit a comment, visit the project’s web site.

Western wins APPA 2011 Annual Report Contest award

Ingenuity and creativity in copy, design, financial data, graphics and communicating the agency’s special story earned Western the American Public Power Association’s Award of Merit for Western’s Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Report.

On Wednesday, Annual Report Project Manager Jennifer Neville accepted the award on behalf of Western during the APPA Customer Connections Conference in Savannah, Ga. “I feel honored that our efforts to support our customers and to communicate on a level that matches their style is being recognized,” Neville remarked. 

The APPA award is the first that Western’s annual reports have received. Neville believes that the report was selected due to its different visual look and style. “This is the first year that we have used a graphical, painted theme rather than photographs,” Neville explained. “Once we devised the theme, Roadmap for Renewable Energy, Graphical Designer, Grant Kuhn, came up with designs, and this one was the clear choice by Senior Managers.”

Read more on Western’s website.

Bill to repeal TIP’s borrowing authority moves to full House

House Resolution 2915, which proposes to repeal Western’s Transmission Infrastructure Program’s $3.25 billion borrowing authority from the U.S. Treasury, passed the House of Representatives Committee of Natural Resources with no amendments Oct. 5 with a 26-17 straight party-line vote.

While the three projects currently approved to use the borrowing authority – TransWest Express (development phase), Electrical District 5 – Palo Verde Hub and the Montana Alberta Tie, Limited – would not be impacted by the bill’s passage, no other projects being considered would receive funding.

“New transmission is urgently needed in the western United States.  And yet, getting lines in the air has been far too slow over the past few decades,” said Lauren Azar, senior advisor to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, in a written testimony for a Sept. 22 hearing with the Subcommittee on Water and Power. “Western’s $3.25 billion of permanent, indefinite, borrowing authority is, therefore, a critical tool for addressing two of the major energy challenges we now face in the West — the need for additional transmission infrastructure and integration of renewables onto the grid.”

The bill will now be considered in the full House.

TIP’s borrowing authority constructs or upgrades transmission infrastructure within Western’s 15-state service area that has the reasonable expectation of helping deliver renewable generation to customers and is in the public interest.

One of TIP’s projects chosen for fast-track approval

The Department of Energy announced, Oct. 5, seven transmission projects chosen by President Obama’s administration for accelerated permitting and constructing by the newly-formed Rapid Response Team for Transmission, which brings together nine agencies to expedite and improve the coordination of necessary Federal approvals for building transmission.

One of the chosen projects, TransWest Express, is currently being funded partially by Western’s Transmission Infrastructure Program’s borrowing authority. Western will provide $25 million, or 50 percent, for the development phase to determine the technical feasibility of building the project.

“The RRTT selection highlights the TWE Project’s importance to the overall grid, its economic and environmental benefits, and its ability to create and sustain competitive, cost-effective energy for consumers in California and other states,” said Bill Miller, president and CEO of TransWest Express LLC.

About Rapid Response Team for Transmission
The agencies included in the team are the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Electric Regulatory Commission, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Western, TWE execute development agreement for TransWest Express Transmission Project

A major milestone for the TransWest Express Transmission Project was reached Friday as the Western Area Power Administration and TransWest Express LLC announced an agreement to fund the project’s $50 million development phase.

The TWE Project development phase will determine the feasibility of constructing and operating a 725-mile, 600-kilovolt, direct current transmission line that would facilitate renewable energy delivery from Wyoming to the southwestern United States. The project would interconnect with the existing transmission grid near Rawlins, Wyo., and the Marketplace Hub, near Las Vegas, Nev.

Western’s Transmission Infrastructure Program will use its U.S. Treasury borrowing authority under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act amendement to the Hoover Power Plant Act of 1984 to fund 50 percent of the development phase. TWE , LLC will fund the other $25 million.

The press release in its entirety can be read in Western’s online Newsroom.