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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.

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!”

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?

Helping Federal agencies in their quest to get “green”

To help our Nation meet its environmental targets for renewable energy generation the U.S. Department of Energy, Western Area Power Administration and Federal Energy Management Program announced Feb. 14 the 2013 renewable energy certificate (REC) solicitations to Federal agencies interested in meeting their renewable energy goals and mandates, improving the environment and supporting national energy security.

For those of you who are not familiar with the term, RECs represent the environmental aspects of energy generated by renewable resources such as solar, wind, biomass or landfill gas, physically delivered into the electric grid.

For more information and to participant in this solicitation, download and complete the Statement of Intent for Federal Agencies to Purchase Renewable Resources

On March 14, 2013 at 11 a.m. MST, the partnering agencies are hosting a 45-minute webinar covering the key requirements and steps associated with this REC purchase. Register for this event at

Delta-Mendota intertie project completed in California

The Bureau of Reclamation held a ribbon-cutting ceremonyfor the recently completed Delta Mendota Canal Intertie project, May 2. Western’s Sierra Nevada region constructed a new transmission line to provide critical project use power.

The new 4.7-mile, 69-kilovolt transmission line near Tracy, Calif., was energized March 14 and powers Reclamation’s pumping plant, which is needed to propel water through the concrete pipes. The line connects to an existing Western 69-kV line in Contra Costa County.

You can read more about the transmission line project or see Reclamation’s news release and photos from the May 2 event.

Western “holds on” during earthquake drill

Western employees hold on during Utah earthquake drill

Catherine Anderson, a contracted administrative technician, ducks, covers and holds on during a state-wide earthquake drill in Utah April 17 at 10:15 a.m.

Colorado River Storage Project Management Center employees in Salt Lake City, Utah, dropped, covered and held on with nearly 1 million other Utahns during a state-wide earthquake drill at 10:15 a.m. April 17.

“It was a great success with a lot of interest created in taking additional steps within the office toward better preparedness,” said CRSP Financial Analyst David Welker, who headed up the exercise for the office. After the drill, employees “had a brief group discussion on earthquake safety and general preparedness.”

 The Great Utah ShakeOut, the largest earthquake in Utah’s history, simulated a 7.0 magnitude earthquake where residents, businesses, schools and others took cover for about 60 seconds in shelters or other protected areas.

The exercise was meant to encourage emergency preparedness and educate citizens about earthquake safety, including making a disaster kit, having a plan and mapping out safe places to go during and after the quake.

“Utah is overdue for a major earthquake,” said Welker. “Utah has conducted small-scale drills in towns and such, but this is the first time it’s been done on a state-wide level. It’s important to keep the information fresh so you know what to do if there is a quake.”

Web team seeks support for usability review – vote today!

Western’s website is in need of usability testing so that we can “tweak” our website to meet customer needs.

As a Federal agency, every dollar counts and saving visitors time online finding what they need is the primary mission for our web team.  See our video on seeking assistance from GSA staff asking for their help reviewing our website.

It’s a challenge so popularity is the game and we need more votes before 9 p.m., Eastern time today!

If we win the contest, you—our customer—are guaranteed to see some improvements on our website!

How you can help

Watch our video on and vote for us. You’ll have to sign up for a account, but it will only take a few minutes.

Wish us luck!

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!

Infrared Camera Workshop Jan. 9

An Infrared Camera Workshop being held on Jan. 9, 2012 in Billings, Mont., is a partnership with Western and Montana State University Billings-College of Technology. This one-day workshop offers your utility hands-on training in Fluke and Flir infrared cameras’ technology and software, as well as guidance on integrating IR cameras into efficiency program development and utility O&M.

This unique workshop presents insight into designing an IR program, reading IR images for utility applications, field training with cameras and how to work with customers to use IR camera data.

See Western’s Energy Services Web page to register and see the agenda for the workshop. Seating is limited to first come first serve, so register today.

Western’s 2011 Strategic Plan reveals revised goals

Recently, Western’s senior management team updated Western’s strategic plan.

“This revision fine tunes and updates our strategies to ensure we are aligned with DOE’s goals and are working to secure a sustainable, clean reliable and secure energy future for our customers, the American people and future generations,” said Western’s Administrator Tim Meeks in his message to the Department of Energy, customers and employees.

 “For a strategic plan to be useful, it needs to be a living document that is periodically reviewed and updated to reflect the changes in the world around us,” he added.